As the number of Covid-19 cases hits new records, governments in Europe and elsewhere are beginning to impose targeted limits on the movement of the unvaccinated. Are these measures justified or do they unfairly restrict people’s freedom of movement?
“The objective is clear: we want to give the green light to a national lockdown for the unvaccinated on Sunday,” Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said at a press conference on Friday.
“A lockdown for the unvaccinated means you can’t leave your home unless you go to work, go shopping (for the most part), stretch your legs – which is exactly what we’ve all had to go through in 2020, ”Schallenberg said, referring to three national lockdowns last year.
The states of Upper Austria and Salzburg have already approved lockdown measures for the unvaccinated, which are expected to go into effect on Monday.
The targeted closures would be in addition to measures that came into effect on November 8 banning people who are not fully vaccinated from entering many public places, such as restaurants, bars, hairdressers, hotels, gatherings and more. of 25 people and, perhaps most painfully for many, the ski lifts. The new rules will be phased in over four weeks, during which time proof of a first dose of vaccination and a negative PCR test will be sufficient for access.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, only 64% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated, the lowest rate of all Western European countries except Liechtenstein. The EU-wide average is 67 percent.
Not everyone thinks the restrictions are justified. “There are people who think there is no justification for limiting freedom of movement,” said Merten Reglitz, senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham. “Others think [the response] is disproportionate, that the danger is not serious enough… that’s one side of the coin. “
On the other hand, there is the argument that we have responsibilities to those around us. “Even though we have freedoms, we don’t have the freedom to harm others,” Reglitz said. “This is why the state can be seen as morally justified in imposing restrictions on people. “
The bottom line is that the response be proportionate. Imposing such restrictions in the summer, for example, when the infection rate was low, would have been disproportionate, Reglitz said. Now that the intensive care units are filling up, the math has changed.
This seems to be the conclusion of the governments of other countries as well.
“2G” restrictions in German Saxony and soon in Berlin
On Monday, the German state of Saxony implemented so-called 2G rules, which effectively exclude people who choose not to be vaccinated from many areas of public life. Under the new rules, only people who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months are allowed to eat inside restaurants or go to clubs or bars. A negative test will no longer get you through the door. Only children and those who have medical reasons not to be vaccinated are exempt from the new rule.
Berlin will also adopt the 2G rules on November 15, and Brandenburg, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria are expected to follow suit. The 2G rules are already in force in some neighborhoods where Covid hospitalizations are particularly high. Similar proposals are being discussed for adoption at the national level and, if approved, would enter into force later this month.
Such measures are not limited to Europe. New South Wales, Australia recently banned people over 16 who are not fully vaccinated from visiting another person’s place of residence except in limited circumstances. And the Singaporean government will no longer foot the bill for treating those who are “not vaccinated by choice” and catch the virus.