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Communists call for Austria’s government to resign over ‘political pandemic of incompetence’

COMMUNISTS in Austria have called on the federal government to resign over its disastrous handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Austria entered a new national lockdown on Monday — its fourth since the pandemic began last March. All residents have been ordered to stay at home for all but essential reasons, including work, exercise and shopping for food.

The Party of Labour (PdA) said the drastic decision shows that the government is “unable and unwilling to protect the health of the population, but only cares about the profits of capital,” and accused the People’s Party-led administration of losing control.

“It is time to end the political pandemic of incompetence and irresponsibility,” a PdA statement said.

The new restrictions are set to stay in place until December 12, though are subject to review after 10 days.

They came into force after tens of thousands took to the streets last weekend in protest against them, under banners reading “freedom” and “resistance.”

Similar demonstrations took place in the Netherlands and Belgium, with violent altercations between protesters and police.

Of concern for some Austrians are plans to make vaccinations compulsory from February 1 next year, which critics have labelled a restriction of human rights. One recent poll found that 41 per cent of the population were in favour of the move, while another found a slim majority (53 per cent) in favour of it.

Under rules brought in on Monday, but with a four-week grace period, unvaccinated people who also haven’t had Covid-19 will be barred from entering restaurants, hotels and hair salons, and from attending public events with more than 25 people.

Eyebrows were raised last week when Austria implemented a lockdown for the unvaccinated – the first country in the world to enact such a measure – with those affected only allowed to leave home for limited reasons such as working or buying food.

It remains to be seen whether the restrictions on the unvaccinated will stay in place after the national lockdown ends. About 65 per cent of Austria’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus.

The PdA accused the federal government of failing to prepare for an expected wave of new coronavirus infections and condemned measures that place restrictions on people’s leisure time while allowing them to go to work as normal.

“This makes no sense and illustrates the hypocritical primacy of capitalist profiteering over the health of working people,” it said.

The party said it opposed mandatory vaccination and called for “targeted education instead of threats, repression and denigration.”

Patents must be made freely available, with waivers of intellectual and property rights by pharmaceutical companies, along with the widespread availability of free PCR tests for all, the communists said.

The current crisis is endemic of the underfunding of Austria’s health system, it added, and called for urgent investment and expansion of hospital capacity along with improved pay and conditions for health workers.

However, it said that ultimately the government “has failed comprehensively, and must go.”

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