Mia and Christopher are Austrian circus performers. From their home in Vienna, accompanied by their dog, Magic, they go off to take part in theatrical shows large and small around Europe, from the Royal Albert Hall to private parties, sometimes juggling fire, sometimes trapeze, sometimes simply with stunning displays of balance and strength.
Perhaps the least interesting thing about this talented young couple is that they are unvaccinated against Covid-19. When I meet them at their house in a wooded suburb outside Vienna, I am almost embarrassed to ask about it. But they carefully explain how, for reasons of mistrust, caution and, as they see it, integrity, they have decided not to take the Covid vaccine — and how this fact is suddenly defining their whole lives.
Since Monday, unvaccinated Austrians are not allowed to leave their homes except to go to work, to buy essential supplies, or to take exercise: it’s the world’s first “lockdown for the unvaccinated”. It was introduced in response to rapidly rising cases and a lack of excess capacity in Austrian hospitals. “It is not a recommendation, but an order,” announced the Interior Minister Karl Nehammer at a press conference. “Every citizen should know that they will be checked by the police.”
It is, essentially, a ratcheting up of the regime of vaccine pa