We try to make sense of a mass of restrictions
The Canadian province of Quebec announced last week that it will impose a health tax on the 12.8% of its citizens that remain unvaccinated. Though the size of the tax is as yet unannounced, the province’s premier insists it will be ‘significant’, and it will add to existing requirements to show a vaccine pass to access to government cannabis and alcohol shops. We took a look at restrictions elsewhere, ranking countries roughly by their level of anti-vax stringency, from most to least stringent:
1. China 🇨🇳
This has to be Number One — one of the few countries that refuses to let go of its ‘Zero Covid’ dream. Parts of China have required vaccination for access to public transport, schools, nursing homes and hospitals since last summer. There are further reports from certain provinces that unvaccinated people have faced the removal of welfare support and police harassment, and in Nanchang the authorities will pay people to report on their unvaccinated neighbours. There are repeated draconian lockdowns for entire cities on the basis of tiny numbers of cases.
2. Austria 🇦🇹
In November Austria placed two million people who had not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in lockdown for ten days. Anyone who violated the lockdown for the unvaccinated was fined €500. Over Christmas unvaccinated Austrians were allowed to gather in groups of no more than ten, while the vaccinated were allowed gatherings of up to 25. A lockdown for the unvaccinated remains in place, and proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 is required for access to non-essential businesses and services. The Austrian government is working on a draft law to make vaccinations compulsory from February 1st.
3. Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦
Since August last year, vaccination has been compulsory for all private and public sector workers, or for access to government buildings, shops or educational institutions. Saudis are also not allowed to travel abroad without the jab.
4. Italy 🇮🇹
On October 15th Italy became the first country in Europe to introduce a Covid passport, or ‘green pass’. Without proof of vaccination, or a negative test, or proof recovery from Covid-19, Italian citizens were unable to access public spaces, and government or private workplaces. This month the rules were tightened further.
The introduction of the ‘super green pass’ means that anyone over the age of 12 will no longer be able to use public transport, go to the gym, dine in a restaurant, drink in a bar, or enter a hotel or cinema unless they’re vaccinated or have recovered from Covid.
5. Fiji 🇫🇯
In July 2021, Fiji’s Prime Minister announced that all public and private-sector workers needed at least one vaccination or face unemployment, telling his people in a televised address, “no jabs, no job”.
6. Indonesia 🇮🇩
Covid vaccines have been compulsory across Indonesia since February 2021. The mandate is enforced through the removal of social aid and a fine of five million rupiah (£270).
7. Canada 🇨🇦
From last November, unvaccinated Canadians over the age of 12 were unable to board a plane or passenger train. In December Canada’s government announced that employees in all federally regulated workplaces would be required to take the vaccine. The new regulations are expected to come into force in early 2022. Last week Quebec announced plans to impose a “health tax” on residents who refused to get a vaccination for non-medical reasons.
8. Malta 🇲🇹
From next week, a vaccine pass will be required to access most public venues including bars, restaurants and cinemas. Double vaccination is only valid for three months however, while a booster tops a pass up to nine months.
9. Greece 🇫🇮
From July, only vaccinated customers were banned from indoor bars, restaurants, cinemas and theatres. On November the 30th, the Prime Minister announced that vaccination will become compulsory for over-60s, enforced by a 100€ fine for every month an individual remains un-jabbed.
10. Singapore 🇸🇬
From the 8th of December, unvaccinated people who catch Covid have to pay for their own medical bills.
11. France 🇫🇷
From August, French people have required a health pass (from either vaccination or a recent negative test) to access restaurants, cafés, cinemas or trains. From the middle of January, the government plans to institute a vaccine passport for access to these public venues.
12. Australia 🇦🇺
Restrictions vary across regions, but vaccine passports are generally required for restaurants, bars and cinemas. Restrictions are set to increase however, the Western Australian premier this month announcing that vaccine passports will be required for almost all public and private buildings, including hospitals, care homes, play centres and gyms.
13. Germany 🇩🇪
Since December, Germans have required either a vaccine passport or proof of recent recovery from infection to go to bars and restaurants. There are discussions of extending this to a complete vaccine mandate in the next few months.
14. Spain 🇪🇸
The rules vary across Spanish regions, with some requiring Covid passports for access to public spaces indefinitely, some requiring them until January 15th, and some having no additional restrictions.
15. United States 🇺🇸
In September, the US announced companies employing more than 100 people had to ensure that they’re fully vaccinated or conduct weekly tests. This was rejected by the Supreme Court on the 14th January, who indicated that while such a mandate may be legal for healthcare workers, it was not when so broadly applied.
16. Netherlands 🇳🇱
Since September, anyone over the age of 13 has been required to show proof of double-vaccination, recent infection or a negative test to enter public venues including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cinemas and museums.
17. Sweden 🇸🇪
Since November, Sweden has enforced vaccine passes (with testing or recent infection not accepted) for public gatherings or events of over 100 people. Restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums and so forth can enforce vaccine passes but it is not a legal requirement. Health officials are however advising businesses to make greater use of the passes as cases increase.
18. United Kingdom 🇬🇧
At present, vaccination is only compulsory for social care and NHS workers, who have until April 2022 to get their jab. Otherwise, Covid passes are required for some indoor events and larger venues, but these are also available to those who have tested negative within 48 hours.
19. Finland 🇫🇮
Finland’s government has so far only made vaccines mandatory for health and care workers.
20. Brazil 🇧🇷
Brazil currently has limited coronavirus rules of any kind, with no national mask policy, easily-accessed home testing or restrictions on movement. Its president, Jair Bolsonaro, himself unjabbed, has repeatedly cast doubt on the efficacy of vaccines, instead calling the Omicron variant the ‘vaccine virus.’