Italy crossed a barrier on Thursday which it seemed that no EU country would breach: compulsory vaccination of those over the age of 50. It is a radical measure, which has divided the Italian government headed by Mario Draghi, and occurs in the context of the significant increase in infections due to the omicron variant. Those who do not follow the mandatory decree approved by the government - Italy is still in a state of emergency - may be penalized, perhaps even by being suspended from their jobs.
After the news earlier this week, that French president Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with Le Parisien that he intended to "fuck off" the 5 million citizens of his country who had not been vaccinated by imposing severe restrictions on them, the least that can be said is that the leading countries of the European Union have decided to step out of the comfort zone of vaccination recommendations to enter the thorny path of punishing those who are unvaccinated. Germany is also considering passing a compulsory vaccination law in February, as is Austria.
The most striking thing is that one can easily detect a sense of support for more radical actions against people who have not yet been vaccinated. The Christmas festivities in Catalonia, which for many families were precarious because of the restrictions applied here, have clearly reinforced this tendency to see the unvaccinated as part of the problem. When, in part, the reality is much more complex, because the source of people's anger lies in the fact that we were told that mass vaccination would solve the problems of restrictions and end the ban on mixing with other people's bubbles. Now, all that has been thrown in the bin.
In some ways, the Christmas of 2021 was not very different from that of 2020 for many households, as the increase in infections derived from the omicron variant led to the cancellation of a good number of family gatherings. And as well, it only takes a conversation with key players in the restaurant sector to learn that they had to keep slogging on amidst permanent cancellations that, in some cases, reached 50% of bookings in a key period of year, when much of their twelve-month income is at stake.
The unanswered question is whether Spain will go down the road of compulsory vaccination or watch from the sidelines, because the proportions of the population vaccinated in those countries are not so different from those here, and in the midst of campaigning for a third jab, there is already talk of the fourth, the administration of which has already begun in some countries. For me, the most concerning thing is the great confusion that sits nervously behind every decision made.