Austria is ordering its unvaccinated population back into lockdown in an effort to "encourage" more people to get the jab. On Sunday, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced that those who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, but who haven't received it or haven't recently recovered from COVID-19, will have to stay in their homes unless engaged in essential business or travel, reports Politico.
That means unvaccinated people over the age of 12 will only be allowed to leave the house in order to do things like go to the grocery store or go on a walk, says the Los Angeles Times. Those with a negative COVID-19 test will be able to go to work as well, reports The Guardian.
The new policy affects roughly 2 million people out of the country's population of nearly 9 million. Some 63 percent of Austria's population is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. The country reported 13,000 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend.
"We really didn't take this step lightly," the chancellor said in a radio interview announcing the policy. "My aim is very clearly to get the unvaccinated to get themselves vaccinated and not to lock down the vaccinated, in the long term, the way out of this vicious circle we are in—and it is a vicious circle, we are stumbling from wave to lockdown, and that can't carry on ad infinitum—is only vaccination."
Violators will be hit with fines of 500 euros ($572). Police will also be conducting random stops of citizens to enforce the new lockdown policy. Those who refuse to participate in these checks can be fined an additional 1,450 euros ($1,658), says the BBC.
"It can happen anytime and anywhere," said Interior Minister Karl Nehammer of the governing Austrian People's Party about the police checks, according to The Guardian. "Every citizen has to expect to be checked."
The lockdown is scheduled to last at least 10 days.
Protests erupted in the capital city of Vienna in response to the lockdown, and the right-wing Freedom Party has promised to challenge its legality.
Austria might not be the only country trying to lock down the unvaccinated. German politicians are also considering similar restrictions. This week, the left-wing Greens and Social Democrats alongside the classical liberal Free Democrats (the three political parties likely to form the country's next coalition government) proposed requiring unvaccinated people to show a negative COVID-19 test when traveling on public transportation.
Green co-chair Robert Habeck said the proposed restrictions amounted to a "lockdown for the unvaccinated," reports Politico. Berlin and other German state governments have gone further by limiting access to restaurants, theaters, and other public venues to the unvaccinated beginning this week.
An American journalist imprisoned by Myanmar's military government has been freed and is on his way home. Danny Fenster, managing editor of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, was released from prison Monday and allowed to leave the country.
Fenster had been convicted on Friday of spreading false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations, and violating visa regulations. He was sentenced to 11 years of hard labor, reported the Associated Press.
He was set to stand trial on a number of additional, more serious charges, including sedition, that could have seen him imprisoned for life. Former New Mexico governor and diplomat Bill Richardson traveled to Myanmar and helped secure the journalist's release.
Myanmar's military government has convicted at least seven journalists since it overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February.
The U.S. State Department criticized Fenster's imprisonment, as did the New York–based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
"We regret today's harsh ruling against journalist Danny Fenster, call for his immediate and unconditional release, and for all charges pending against him to be dropped," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative, in a statement. "Myanmar must stop jailing journalists for merely doing their jobs of reporting the news."
Another day, another small business crushed by San Francisco's oppressive permitting regime. Yoko and Clint Tan, the operators of a ramen noodle pop-up, have spent months and thousands of dollars trying to open a small, permanent restaurant space in the city's Inner Richmond neighborhood. As San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight reports, it was all for naught:
All the Tans wanted to do was take over a small restaurant space that was available and serve ramen to 10 guests per evening, three nights a week. They figured that turning one Japanese restaurant into another Japanese restaurant would be straightforward, but little about opening a business in San Francisco ever is.
Now they're $100,000 in the hole, far from opening and full of regrets.
While acknowledging they're like "deer in the headlights" when it comes to navigating the city's byzantine permitting process, they still wish they had more guidance. Or, perhaps, that they'd hired a professional permit expediter to get the job done for them.
Read the whole thing here.
• Moving more public hearings online was supposed to make them more accessible and democratic. But they're still dominated by the same unrepresentative loudmouths, writes Michael Hendrix at Governing.
• A 2019 U.S. military airstrike targeting ISIS in Syria ended up killing as many as 70 civilians, according to a new investigation from The New York Times published Saturday. The military did everything it could to conceal the civilian death tolls, per the Times' reporting.
• Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) said on Twitter that billionaires should be taxed more. "I keep forgetting you're still alive," responded billionaire Elon Musk.
• Rising inflation is pushing the price of gold higher.
• Closing arguments in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial are set to begin today.
• The relationship between President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris is reportedly at a low, reports CNN. White House staff have complained about Harris' lack of focus. People close to the vice president say she's being set up to fail. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Twitter that actually everything is all good behind the scenes. If you have to say it…
If Harris were the manager of a soccer team, this statement would be the immediate prelude to a sacking https://t.co/W6jUvNVslT
— Eric Boehm (@EricBoehm87) November 15, 2021
Rent Free is a weekly newsletter from Christian Britschgi on urbanism and the fight for less regulation, more housing, more property rights, and more freedom in America's cities.