Austria has suspended its plan to mandate Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines for its entire adult population following protests against the measure.

Vienna announced the suspension on March 9, explaining that the law was “not proportionate to the threat” posed by the B11529 omicron variant. The strain first identified in South Africa caused milder symptoms despite being more infectious than the earlier B16172 delta variant.

“After consultations with [Health Minister Johannes Rauch], we have decided that we will, of course, follow what the [expert] commission has said. We see no need to actually implement this compulsory vaccination due to the omicron variant that we are predominantly experiencing here,” Austrian Minister for the European Union and the Constitution Karoline Edtstadler told reporters during a March 9 press conference.

She added that the mandatory vaccination law represents “an encroachment of fundamental rights” that can no longer be justified. According to Edtstadler, the commission composed of public health experts will review the situation and the measure by mid-June.

Former Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein, Rauch’s predecessor, announced details of the new law back in December 2021. Austrians turning down the COVID-19 vaccine would be fined €1,200 ($1,318) every month – amounting to a total of €3,600 ($3,956) every three months. He added that officials can opt to impose smaller fines.

“In regular proceedings, the amount of the fine is €3,600. As an alternative, the authorities have the option to impose a fine in shorter proceedings. Here, the amount is €600 ($659).”

The Austrian Parliament approved the measure in February and was set to take effect the month after – until the suspension’s announcement. 

Despite the law’s suspension, Edtstadler said the possibility of re-imposing the vaccine mandate still remains. “I don’t think I need a crystal ball to tell you that today isn’t the last chapter we will write regarding the vaccination mandate,” she said.

Suspension serves as a win for health freedom advocates

The German magazine Der Spiegel noted the law had “practically no effect” on increasing vaccination rates in Austria. About one million Austrians – 13 percent of the population – have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.

Austrian health freedom activist Alexander Tschugguel earlier remarked that Vienna’s vaccine mandate will turn Austrians into “lab rats” for the Western world. He told WND back in January 2022 that neighboring Germany is now replicating the “terrible idea of a vaccine mandate.”

“What the [Austrian] government said is: ‘We are going to create an atmosphere which pushes the people so that they go along and be their own secret service for each other.’ [This] plan to create social pressure [is] step-by-step Machiavellian,” said the founder of the Vienna-based St. Boniface Institute.

Despite this, Tschugguel optimistically pointed out that “resistance is huge” among the usually reserved Austrian population – with many taking to the streets to voice out their opposition.

“Always, what brought us to a solution to the problems was prayer. And what happened? God saved us. Faith is what keeps people fighting,” he said.

“We have to be ready. If we don’t stop this movement, in the future – we will have to sacrifice our lives. Our public lives at the beginning so that we live underground, and maybe then our physical lives. We need the pressure from everywhere. The Austrian government has to understand that this is really wrong.”

Vienna’s decision to suspend the law is an answer to the prayers of Tschugguel and the others fighting for health freedom.

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