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'Jabbed, cured or dead', Germany warns as Europe battles COVID-19 surge

Michelle Fitzpatrick - Agence France-Presse
'Jabbed, cured or dead', Germany warns as Europe battles COVID-19 surge
People stand in a reportedly 700-meter-long queue to get vaccinated in the Philharmonic Hall "Elbphilharmonie" (inseen) in the northern German city of Hamburg on November 22, 2021, as a vaccination center has been openend in the philharmonic amid a surge of infections during the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
AFP / MORRIS MAC MATZEN

BERLIN, Germany — Germans faced the stark warning Monday that they would be "vaccinated, cured or dead" from Covid by the end of winter, while Austria returned to a partial lockdown as Europe battles an upsurge in the pandemic.

Belgium and the Netherlands are still reeling from clashes that rocked weekend protests against new anti-Covid measures.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte labelled three nights of unrest "pure violence" by "idiots" and his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo called violence at a 35,000-strong protest in Brussels "absolutely unacceptable".

Europe's return to the pandemic's epicentre has been blamed on a sluggish vaccine uptake in some nations, the highly contagious Delta variant and colder weather moving people indoors again.

"Probably by the end of this winter, as is sometimes cynically said, pretty much everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, cured or dead," German Health Minister Jens Spahn said, as he urged more citizens to get the jab.

But in a stark reminder that the vaccine does not necessarily stop infection, French Prime Minister Jean Castex tested positive on Monday despite being double-jabbed.

Castex, who will isolate for 10 days, tested positive after a meeting in Brussels with De Croo, whose office later announced he and several ministers would quarantine. 

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany's current Covid curbs — including barring the unvaccinated from certain public spaces — "are not enough".

She told a meeting of leaders of her conservative CDU party that the situation was "highly dramatic", according to participants.

With intensive care beds swiftly filling up, Germany's worst-hit regions have ordered new shutdowns, including the closure of Christmas markets.

'Very confusing '

The restrictions mirror those in neighbouring Austria, which closed shops, restaurants and festive markets on Monday, the most drastic restrictions seen in Western Europe for months.

Its 8.9 million people are allowed to leave home only to go to work, shop for essentials or exercise.

The Alpine nation also plans a vaccine mandate from February 1, one of few places in the world to so far to announce such a move.

"Look around you, nobody is here," said Anelia Lyotin, manning a stall in Vienna selling nuts and dried fruit.

"This situation now is bad for everyone and the only solution is that everyone gets vaccinated," said the 36-year-old. 

Across the border in Slovakia, unvaccinated people were also facing curbs blocking them from entering non-essential stores.

'Dictatorship'

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in European cities at the weekend.

Dozens were arrested in the Netherlands over unrest that began in Rotterdam on Friday, and Belgian police fired water cannon and tear gas at protesters on Sunday.

A crowd of 40,000 marched through Vienna on Saturday decrying "dictatorship".

French security forces arrived in Guadeloupe after a week of unrest over Covid measures, with President Emmanuel Macron pleading for calm on the French Caribbean island. 

The Red Cross said in a report on Monday that the pandemic had damaged the "fabric of society".

It said that women and migrants were among the most affected by secondary effects of the crisis such as income loss, food insecurity, reduced protection against violence and worsening mental health issues.

Boosters

Austria's decision to reimpose a partial lockdown came after Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg criticised the "shamefully low" vaccine rate — 66 percent compared to France's 75 percent — and banned the unjabbed from public spaces.

When that proved ineffective, he announced a nationwide lockdown, with an evaluation after 10 days.

In Germany, the EU's most populous nation, just 68 percent of the population is fully jabbed.

The country has urged all vaccinated adults to get a booster jab to combat waning vaccine efficacy after six months — a call echoed by two French advisory bodies on Monday.

The European Medicines' Agency said it was evaluating an application by Johnson & Johnson to be approved as a top-up shot, having already approved Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters. — with Denise HRUBY in Vienna

COVID-19 GERMANY
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 25, 2021 - 7:49am

As the pandemic, and quarantine restrictions around it, stretches on, some sectors have revived protests against lockdowns and, in some jursidictions, mandatory vaccination. 

Photo: Demonstrators march during a "Men in Black" protest against new government Covid-19 restrictions in Copenhagen, Denmark, November 20, 2021. 

November 25, 2021 - 7:49am

A Dutch judge jailed two people on Wednesday for throwing stones at police during riots in Rotterdam, in the first sentences concerning days of unrest over the government's coronavirus measures.

A woman identified as Sharon M., 26, from the neighbouring town of Spijkenisse, and a man named as Terence van den B., 29, from nearby Delft, were both sentenced to five months in prison with two months suspended.

Sharon M. was ordered to pay 1,000 euros for damage to police cars while both were banned from Rotterdam's main Coolsingel shopping area for one year under a fast-track sentencing. — AFP

November 22, 2021 - 10:04am

A fresh wave of protests broke out in several European cities and in some French overseas territories Sunday, as protesters reacted, sometimes violently, to moves to reintroduce coronavirus restrictions.

Police and protesters clashed in the Belgian capital Brussels, in several Dutch cities and overnight into early Sunday in the French Caribbean territory Guadaloupe.

There were fresh demonstrations in Austria, where the government is imposing a new lockdown and Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

In Brussels, violence broke out at a protest against anti-Covid measures which police said was attended by 35,000 people. — AFP

November 21, 2021 - 9:41am

Fresh rioting broke out late Saturday over the Dutch government's coronavirus measures, with rioters pelting police with stones and fireworks as protests turned violent for a second night in the Netherlands.

Officers in riot gear charged groups of demonstrators in The Hague, while a water cannon was used to put out a pile of blazing bicycles at a busy intersection. Five police officers were injured and at least seven people arrested.

Riots also erupted in the central "Bible Belt" town of Urk and cities in southern Limburg province, while angry fans disrupted two football matches being played behind closed doors because of coronavirus rules, Dutch media said.

The previous night an "orgy of violence" broke out in the port city of Rotterdam, during which three people were wounded when police opened fire and 51 suspects were arrested.

The Netherlands went back into Western Europe's first partial lockdown of the winter last Saturday with at least three weeks of curbs, and is now planning to ban unvaccinated people from entering some venues, the so-called 2G option. — AFP

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