Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, Poland... Countries are tightening their restrictions to fight against the resurgence of COVID-19. Their target: the non-vaccinated. Filling up hospitals, they also display the most serious symptoms of COVID-19. Where in the world is it the hardest to not be vaccinated ?
Pressure on unvaccinated workers and health workers
With an average of more than 30,000 new cases per day, Germany is steadily tightening its restrictions against COVID-19, especially for the unvaccinated.
Since November 1, unvaccinated employees who are forced to self-isolate or who are unable to work because of the COVID-19 measures no longer receive salary compensation. Klaus Holetschek, Bavaria's Minister of Health, is adamant: "The non-vaccinated must be responsible. Bavaria is one of the strictest states in terms of the fight against COVID-19. Expensive PCR tests for the non-vaccinated, activities restricted to them... Jens Spahn, Federal Health Minister, agrees: "It's not about pressure... but about fairness towards the vaccinated. Why should others pay for someone who decides not to be vaccinated?
The issue is also stirring debate in Greece. Since November 6, unvaccinated employees have been required to submit two negative Covid-19 tests per week in order to work, compared to the one test required until then. The tests are at their expense (about 60€ per test). Similarly, any non-vaccinated person must now show a negative PCR test before going to administrative services, most shops, banks, restaurants, cafés... Any institution not respecting this risks a €5,000 fine and 15 days of administrative closure. For the non-vaccinated, the penalty is already there. But nothing yet regarding places of worship. The non-vaccinated are mostly the elderly. Other states, such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe, have banned the non-vaccinated from churches.
In Norway, unvaccinated healthcare workers are being targeted: they must now be tested twice a week and wear a mask. Hungary is stricter: “Companies can now require staff to be vaccinated," announced Gergely Gulyas, head of the cabinet of the sovereignist Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Those who are reluctant will have to take an unpaid leave and may be dismissed after a year. In Latvia, the vaccinated are separated from the non-vaccinated. For the latter, they are obliged to do their basic shopping in certain authorised shops only.
Lockdown and restrictions for the non-vaccinated
Lockdown is back. The Netherlands, Austria, Russia and China all under partial lockdown. Austria has been putting the non-vaccinated under lockdown since November 15. Initially for 10 days, the measure could be extended. The pressure tactics are bearing fruit, though. Vaccination centers are filling up again. The lockdown is even longer in the Netherlands: three weeks, with curfew and closure of essential and non-essential areas (8pm for the former, 6pm for the latter). But after these three weeks, only the vaccinated will have access to restaurants and leisure outlets. The non-vaccinated, even with a negative PCR test, will not have access. Russia has also introduced a compulsory lockdown of non-vaccinated people over 60 years old since October 25 (until February 25, 2022). Faced with the health catastrophe, the country is trying to react and is multiplying the anti-COVID-19 measures.
China is the most strict country in the fight against COVID-19. In the country of zero tolerance, lockdown is required at the slightest suspicion of a cluster. The latest case: 1,500 students locked in their dormitories following an outbreak in the city of Dalian, in the northeast of the country.
Get paid to get vaccinated
In the United States, American companies are supporting the vaccination campaign in their own way: rewarding the employee and preserving the company's competitiveness (collective immunity, reduced risk of sick leave). A win-win offer that appeals to employees. At Aldi, they offer 4 hours of salary, two hours per dose. Lidl prefers to focus on the financial advantage: $200 for each employee who agrees to be vaccinated. For American Airlines, it's 1 extra day of paid vacation and $50 in rewards points. McDonald's also opts for 4 hours of paid time off. Various states have undertaken similar actions: free vouchers, discount coupons from partner merchants... Initiatives are flourishing in other countries around the world. In the north of France, a shopping center took advantage of the installation of a vaccination center on its premises to offer discount coupons from partner stores. The same operation was carried out in French Guiana, where a supermarket distributed €5 vouchers. However, these initiatives are not always welcomed.
Skeptics and anti-vaccine activists see them as an instrumentalization and call for a boycott. However, their voices do not carry much weight when compared to the concrete benefits of a vaccination combined with a monetary bonus. In Japan, restaurant owners' initiatives are welcomed: free vouchers or a free product to encourage vaccination. Japan, criticized by the international community for its delay in vaccination, is now a model. In just four months, it has caught up with, and then surpassed, the major countries, which had started their vaccination campaigns several months before it. As of November 16, 76.1% of the population is fully vaccinated and 79% has received at least one dose.
All these incentives seem to be bearing fruit: the non-vaccinated are rushing to vaccination centers. Some of them claim that they are doing the right thing and that they had formerly been afraid to be vaccinated. Others speak of "policing", of stress increased by all these restrictions that prevent the non-vaccinated from living. What about freedom? Last Sunday on the set of BFMTV, the French Minister of the Economy Bruno Lemaire sees it as a selfish drift and takes up the famous quote: "My freedom stops where the other's begins." And the minister appealed, like his German counterparts, to the responsibility of all to finally defeat COVID-19.