When Austria became the first European country to make Covid vaccines compulsory, the drastic rule left many citizens stunned.
But in the weeks since the announcement was made, more and more nations have introduced similar measures – or at least hinted that the controversial rule was on the cards.
And with Europe now in the grip of yet another crushing Covid wave amid stagnating vaccination rates, and the new Omicron variant wreaking fresh havoc globally, it seems likely the vaccine mandate trend will be here to stay.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg recently told CNN he felt he had no choice but to announce the rule – which will come into effect in February next year – in order to save lives and the healthcare system.
Under the measure, those who remain unvaccinated after February could face hefty fines of €7200 ($11,917).
"I would have preferred to go another way. But if one year in [from] having the vaccine, of having national campaigns, of having media explaining again and again what this is about, that we have such a high degree of insecurity, of people believing in fake news ... we have a necessity to take this drastic step," Schallenberg said.
The announcement has sparked waves of bitter protests across the nation – but Schallenberg is sticking to his guns, with other European leaders likely to follow suit.
Germany's Tourism Minister Thomas Bareiss late last month said "sooner or later a compulsory vaccination is unavoidable", insisting it was "no longer justifiable" to leave business owners in a "state of crisis" while citizens refused the jab.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced this week that Covid-19 vaccinations would be compulsory for over-60s, with the unvaccinated also barred from venues like gyms and cinemas.
Similar rules are being rolled out in the Czech Republic, with Italy and France also introducing strict measures effectively pushing the population towards vaccination, including requiring proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from the virus before entry into venues.
Vaccinations are also mandatory for health workers in those nations as well as the UK and other countries in Europe, with mandates for certain parts of the population also present in Israel, China, the US and Brazil.
South Africa, which has emerged as the Omicron epicentre, is also considering making jabs compulsory for workers, with Kenya also cracking down on the unvaccinated last month.
Mandates a 'bigger trend'
In a recent interview with CNN, Thomas Hale, who works on the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford's Covid-19 Government Response Tracker, said while Austria's vaccination stance has been extreme, it was proof of a growing movement as nations scramble to contain the spread.
But do mandates actually work?
"Austria's a very dramatic example. But it's very much part of a bigger trend," Hale told CNN.
"I think they [mandates] do work. I think they especially motivate people who are not vaccine adverse, but who are kind of vaccine lazy, a little bit hesitant. And in some countries, that's a big chunk of the population.
"But if you're facing people who are really against vaccination, then it's not as clear to me that those measures will remove that barrier."
New Zealand's rules
New Zealand is about to enter its next phase of battling Covid when the whole of New Zealand moves into the traffic light system at 11.59pm tonight.
Under all traffic light settings, events, restaurants, bars, gyms and hairdressers are expected to be able to remain open.
That is, provided they use a vaccine certificate to ensure only vaccinated people are using their services.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said a vaccinated person would likely feel no different under the orange and green settings.
Only under the red setting do events and gyms become limited as they have to restrict the number of people in attendance to 100 or fewer, while hairdressers also have to maintain stricter public health measures.
For the unvaccinated, the traffic light system will likely feel like a level 3 lockdown.
Events, restaurants, hairdressers and cafes that use vaccine certificates will not be able to accept the unvaxxed into their stores.
And events, restaurants, hairdressers and cafes that do not use vaccine certificates will not be allowed to open at all under the red and orange settings - except to offer takeaway food only in the case of restaurants and cafes.
Gatherings at funerals and weddings will be limited to 10 people under the red setting and 50 people under the orange setting.
Under the green setting, events, gyms and restaurants will be able to open without vaccine certificates but there will be restrictions on how many people can be in attendance.
- Additional reporting, NZ Herald