Turning the unvaccinated into modern-day lepers?
On January 6, Italy made a coronavirus vaccination mandatory for everybody over the age of 50. Ansa reported that people who don’t comply will face a fine of €100. Oh, and the government decided to bar those over 50 from work if they are not vaccinated or recently recovered from the disease. The new rules go into effect on February 15.
On January 5, France’s Emmanuel Macron all but declared war on the unvaccinated, saying he wanted to “piss off” the unjabbed by making daily life more and more difficult for them. “I am not about pissing off the French people,” the French president said in an interview with Le Parisien. “But as for the non-vaccinated, I really want to piss them off. And we will continue to do this, to the end. This is the strategy.”
Some might question the sense of a pandemic strategy that turns the unvaccinated into modern-day lepers. But the world does seem increasingly impatient with those who claim the right not to take two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, if offered. From Italy to Iran, opinion – and policy positions – are hardening against the unvaccinated.
Mr Macron’s charge came a day after US president Joe Biden’s more gentle attack on the unvaccinated. “There’s no excuse,” he said, “there’s no excuse for anyone being unvaccinated…This continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated”.
And back on December 19, Britain’s health secretary Sajid Javid, criticised people who choose not to be vaccinated. Britain’s roughly five million unjabbed people – 10 per cent of the population eligible for coronavirus vaccine doses – “must really think about the damage they are doing to society,” he said. “They take up hospital beds that could have been used for someone with maybe a heart problem, or maybe someone who is waiting for elective surgery. But instead of protecting themselves and protecting the community they choose not to get vaccinated”.
December also had three other significant developments for the unvaccinated:
** On December 2, just days before Angela Merkel stepped aside from chancellorship of Germany, she announced that unvaccinated people would be barred from much of public life. The country’s regional leaders joined with the federal government to agree strict restrictions on entry to restaurants, cinemas, leisure facilities and many shops.
** On December 6, Iran launched a “smart protocols” plan that imposes restrictions on the unvaccinated, including participation in activities in indoor public spaces and the use of public transport. Only Iranians with a digital vaccine pass issued by the health ministry (which is to say the fully vaccinated) will be able to attend school, go to the cinema and travel domestically on buses and planes.
** Italy also introduced tough restrictions on December 6 on unvaccinated people’s entry to theatres, cinemas, music venues, sports events, restaurants and bars. Until mid-January, such public activities will be off limits to anyone without a so-called Covid Super Green Pass. The pass shows proof of vaccination, or recovery from the virus within the last six months. Italy also made it mandatory to show the existing basic green pass in order to use public transport and enter a workplace.
December’s developments came on the heels of Austria’s November threats of further restrictions on the unvaccinated, to add to the bar on entering restaurants, hotels, hairdressing salons and large public events.
By all indications, 2022 will only get harder for the unvaccinated.
On January 10, travellers from European Union (EU) countries that have low rates of full vaccination, such as Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Croatia will face more entry restrictions than residents of better vaccinated EU member states. And February will see the Italian hardline on unvaccinated workers over 50 go into effect.