Italy is considering a lockdown of the unvaccinated, the latest European state to follow the medical apartheid imposed by Austria.
Vienna on Monday ordered two million people who have not been fully vaccinated to stay at home for all but essential reasons, threatening fines of up to £1,237 for rule breakers.
And Germany’s incoming government has said that it wants unvaccinated people to be barred from going to work and travelling on public transport amid what Angela Merkel calls ‘dramatic’ infection levels.
Now five Italian governors are backing the same approach amid a ferociously accelerating fourth wave of the virus in the EU’s worst affected country – Italy’s Covid death toll stands at more than 133,000.
There were 7,815 new coronavirus cases in Italy on Tuesday and 74 new deaths, increases of 28 per cent and 9 per cent respectively on the same day last week.
‘Eventual new lockdowns should not have to be suffered by those who are vaccinated. Restrictions should only apply to those who are not immunized,’ said Massimiliano Fedriga, governor of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the country’s northeast.
The governors of Tuscany, Calabria, Liguria and Piedmont agree with Fedriga.
2: A nurse assists a Covid-19 patient, in the new ward to deal with the Covid-19 emergency set up in the Fiera del Levante, on November 12, in Bari, Italy
There were 7,815 new Covid-19 cases in Italy on Tuesday, an increase of 28 per cent on the same day last week
There were 74 new deaths in Italy on Tuesday, a rise of 9 per cent on the same day last week
Italy has one of the best vaccination rates in Europe, with 84 per cent of the population double-jabbed, however seven million have refused to take it.
They also have a vigorous anti-vaxx movement within the country which has been rocked by protests against the Green Pass, a vaccine passport which is required to dine indoors, visit museums and cinemas and for long-distance public transport.
But a growing number of Italian politicians are adamant that Rome must push ahead with a lockdown for the unvaccinated.
Former prime minister Matteo Renzi tweeted: ‘You’re not vaccinated? Then stay at home.’
It comes as Merkel today branded Germany’s Covid situation ‘dramatic’ and called for harsher measures to curb the pandemic even as more states lockdown their unvaccinated citizens.
Mrs Merkel warned ‘we are in such an emergency’, and called for new laws that would automatically trigger tough lockdown measures in any state that hits a certain threshold for Covid hospital admissions.
The incoming Social Democrat (SDP) government on Tuesday warned that unvaccinated people will be barred from going to work and travelling on public transport.
The new government will also recommend that everyone should work from home unless they have a ‘compelling business reason’.
‘This is actually a lockdown for the unvaccinated,’ said Dirk Wiese, the deputy head of the SPD parliamentary group. Around 14 million Germans eligible to be vaccinated have not taken up the offer.
State leaders are already rushing to implement their own lockdown measures which largely targeted the unvaccinated – making it harder for them to access public spaces and services without having a jab.
Thirteen of the country’s 16 federal states now have or are planning to implement rules that restrict the activities of people based largely on their vaccination status.
So-called 2G rules restrict access to various buildings and spaces to people who have either been double-jabbed or previously infected with Covid.
It is a stricter form of the 3G rule, which allows un-jabbed people to enter provided they have tested negative for the virus.
Angela Merkel has called for tougher lockdown measures in Germany and an extension of the state of emergency as Covid cases soar to record levels
Cases are rapidly rising across the country and have hit record levels in recent weeks as a relatively low jab rate and slow booster drive combined to speed up infections
Exactly which locations unjabbed people are barred from entering varies state to state. In Baden-Wuerttemberg the passes are required to access most public buildings, including cinemas, restaurants, theaters, and galleries.
In Lower Saxony, the 2G rules only apply to indoor events with more than 1,000 people, though tougher measures are being planned.
Germany has seen Covid infections soar to record levels in recent weeks, as a relatively low double-jabbed rate of 67 per cent combined with a sluggish booster drive led infections to spread rapidly.
Health Chief Jens Spahn has come in for criticism by a lockdown-weary public who have accused him of failing to prepare for winter months, when respiratory illnesses such as Covid are known to spread faster.
Newspapers such as Bild and Suddeutsche Zeitung blasted Spahn for removing free Covid tests for most people, while also closing some vaccination centres after the spring wave had subsided.
Deaths are nowhere near the levels seen during the first and second wave of Covid, but have started to climb rapidly amid fears they could soon top the previous peaks
Germany is now reopening some jab hubs in an effort to boost its vaccine drive, but many will not be operational until January or February.
The German lockdown measures come off the back of Austria, which this week confined some 2million unvaccinated people to their homes amid soaring cases.
Branded ‘vaccine apartheid’ by critics, it has never-the-less led to record queues to get jabs according to The Telegraph.
While many told the newspaper they were unhappy at the new rules, they never-the-less appeared to be achieving the desired result. Some 462,000 came forward for jabs yesterday, the highest number since the summer.
Meanwhile Slovakia and Greece said they are considering a similar lockdown, though have no plans to activate one yet.
Gabriel Attal, the French government spokesman, also noted Wednesday that his country’s outbreak is also being driven largely by those who have not been jabbed – but said no new measures will be put in place for now.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia reported record daily numbers of new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a day before the governments of the neighbouring nations plan to approve new restrictions in response to rising infections.
The Czech daily tally soared to 22,479 new cases, eclipsing the previous record set on January 7 by almost 5,000 and nearly 8,000 more than a week ago.
Austria has locked down its unvaccinated citizens, with people now forced to carry vaccination papers so they can leave their homes
Austria is battling a brutal fourth wave of Covid that has seen its infection rate soar to one of the highest in Europe (pictured, a patient is treated in hospital)
The country’s infection rate rose to 813 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, up from 558 a week earlier.
Czech prime minister Andrej Babis said the government was considering several options, including following neighbouring Austria in ordering a lockdown for unvaccinated residents.
Slovakia reported 8,342 new virus cases, surpassing the previous record of 7,244 set on Friday.
The Slovakian government is planning new restrictions on unvaccinated people as the country’s hospitals become overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.
Slovakian prime minister Eduard Heger said his Cabinet would vote on Thursday on recommendations from an advisory group of medical experts.
And in Hungary, the number of daily Covid-19 deaths and new officially recorded cases on Wednesday climbed to highs not seen since a pandemic surge last spring.
Government figures showed 178 daily deaths and 10,265 new cases in the country of fewer than 10 million people. The latter figure approached record pandemic highs set in March, while daily deaths were the highest since May 1.
The numbers reflect a worsening pandemic situation in the Central European country, which in spring had the highest Covid-19 death rate per capita in the world.