Scots TV historian Neil Oliver emerged from being in self-isolation after catching Covid to call on governments to condemn Austria for imposing a lockdown on the unvaccinated.

The archaeologist, author and TV presenter, who has previously branded lockdown "the biggest mistake in world history" spoke out in his first TV monologue since testing positive for Covid-19 at the start of the month.

The former National Trust for Scotland president who faced calls for him to be 'cancelled' after stating he would "cheerfully risk catching Covid" in the name of personal freedom tested positive after doing a weekly test in advance of going to GB News studios.

He came out of mandatory quarantine on November 14 to take aim at the lockdown decision by Austria - fearing that the silence in the UK means the nation could follow suit.

The Renfrewshire-born 54-year-old GB News host who has previously stated that he and his wife will not let their three teenage children take the Covid vaccine said: "What troubles me most of all, is that there has been not a word of condemnation of Austria's decision from our leaders, not even the sounding of a note of caution. Where too are the faith leaders.

"I want to hear our government condemn the decision taken by their counterparts in Austria. At the very least I want our government to promise on whatever is holy to them, that no such laws will ever be passed here in Great Britain.

"If they will neither condemn, not swear an unbreakable oath than the only conclusion to be drawn is that they're watching to see how it goes in Austria and elsewhere, perhaps with a view to following suit."

READ MORE: Bid to 'cancel' GB News's Neil Oliver over 'I'd risk catching Covid’ in name of freedom stance

Austrian chancellor Alexander Schallenberg later announced at the weekend a full national Covid-19 lockdown starting today (Monday).

HeraldScotland: Neil Oliver, GB News presenter

He said it would last a maximum of 20 days.

It was also announced that Austria  would become the first European country where a Covid-19 vaccination would become a legal requirement. The new rules are set to come into force in February, as details of how the measure will be enforced are still being discussed.

The country was responding to record case numbers and one of the lowest vaccination levels in Western Europe.

Many other European countries are imposing restrictions as cases rise.

Latest figures show the incidence rate had risen to 1,049.9 cases per 100,000 people in the previous week, and Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said imposing a lockdown was a "last resort".

A week earlier two million people who had not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 were placed in lockdown in Austria.

Unvaccinated people were only to be allowed to leave home for limited reasons, like working or buying food.

About 65% of Austria's population was fully vaccinated - one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.

Mr Oliver, best known as a presenter of several BBC documentary series, including A History of Scotland, Vikings and Coast said in his first monologue since coming out of his Covid quarantine said that Austria "a supposedly liberal multiple democracy has decided to assume full rights over the flesh and blood of its citizens".

He added: "A government in 21st century Europe has decided it has the final say over what chemicals go into the bodies of those citizens.

"There's no way of denying that that is the crossing of a Rubicon. Once people have to surrender control of their bodies to the state, those people are in a different world, a world in which they are not autonomous beings but puppets on strings. It's also likely a world from which there is no turning back.

"Some will say well, they can leave the country if they don't like it, go live somewhere else.

"But where in the world to go. In the 20th century, there were still places to go in the world to escape situations and regimes that have become unliveable and a threat to life. But what if the whole world changes in the same way? What if all the world becomes Austria?"

His comments were criticised by those who said that vaccinations are crucial to stem the Covid tide, and applauded by others who felt personal freedom was more important.

Under the measures introduced today, Austrians will be asked to work from home, non-essential shops will close, and schools will remain open for children who require face-to-face learning. They will continue until December 12, but will be reassessed after 10 days.

German leaders have already agreed to introduce restrictions for unvaccinated people in areas with high hospital admissions. And parliament has backed requirements for people to show Covid passes on buses and trains, and in workplaces.

In Bavaria, which borders Austria, state premier Markus Söder has gone further, declaring a "de facto lockdown for the unvaccinated". Bars and clubs will close for three weeks and all Christmas markets have been cancelled.

Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger has already announced that a "lockdown for the unvaccinated" will start on Monday, and the Czech government is also limiting access to a variety of services.

Mr Oliver said: Other countries Germany, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, are on the same path as Austria towards locking down the unvaccinated. Perhaps those governments will also opt to make vaccination compulsory sooner rather than later.


"It seems frighteningly clear to me that the authorities in Austria and elsewhere are looking for scapegoats now. People to blame for a virus that won't comply or obey either.

"Infection rates in many of those countries where the greater part of the populations is fully vaccinated with two or three doses are rising fast. Gibraltar is one of the most vaccinated regions on the planet, so too Israel, and yet infections continue to increase in both places.

"Rather than consider the possibility that the month long strategy is not the right one, or to at least concede it's not having the predicted effect, it is easier to push blindly ahead and point the finger of blame at someone else.

"History shows bad governments often look for people to blame, often some of their own people, uniting a large part of the population against the smaller part, giving frightened, angry people a focus for their frustrations and also for disgust is as old as the hills. If the 20th century has a lesson for us, a lesson that ought to be as permanent, as indelible as any scar or tattoo, it is encouraging citizens to regard a minority of their fellows as unclean, as vectors of disease, generally ends badly, badly for everyone."

Austria's initial unvaccinated lockdown prompted protests with hundreds protesting outside the chancellery in the capital, Vienna, waving banners that read: "Our bodies, our freedom to decide."

The government had said police were to carry out spot checks in public spaces to work out the vaccination status of individuals, and issue fines to those caught breaking the rules.

Austria's health ministry said anyone who violated the lockdown for the unvaccinated could be fined €500 and a penalty of €1,450 could be meted out for refusing to participate in checks.

Mr Oliver said: "It seems clear to me that the move was not about health but about compliance and obedience. Or rather yet another bid to tackle and subdue the stubborn refusal to comply and to be obey. Do as you're told.

"Now the authorities have the whole population locked down once more, presumably some bright spark somewhere had the notion that stigmatising and segregating the unvaccinated might have the desired effect. But it certainly wasn't going to halt the spread."

He concluded in a monologue that went viral and saw Neil Oliver trend on Twitter: Will we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to compulsory medical procedures for citizens. Will we remain silent while such a dark tide slides ever closer to our own shores one country at a time.

"He who remains silent is deemed to have granted his consent, or so the old tenet goes. Will we remain silent, or will we speak up loud and clear and truthfully.

"Martin Luther King said we have a moral obligation to disobey unjust laws. Will we speak up to withhold our consent. Will we disobey unjust laws. And if we will not, then who are we?"

At the weekend, the Europe regional director of the World Health Organization, Hans Kluge, warned of a hard winter ahead and raised concern about the spread of Covid-19 in Europe.

He blamed insufficient vaccination coverage along with "the easing of preventive measures and the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant".

Dr Kluge warned that 500,000 more deaths could be recorded by March unless urgent action is taken.

Dr Kluge said an increase in mask wearing could immediately help.

He called for increased vaccine uptake and the implementation of basic public health measures and new medical treatments to help fight the rise.

"Covid-19 has become once again the number one cause of mortality in our region," he said.

Dr Kluge said mandatory vaccination measures should be seen as a "last resort" but that it would be "very timely" to have a "legal and societal debate" about the issue.

"Before that, there are other means like the Covid pass," he said, adding that this is "not a restriction of liberty, rather it is a tool to keep our individual freedom."

Mr Oliver had previously told GB News of his experience of Covid and being told to self-isolate.

"I would say Saturday, Sunday, Monday, I  felt a bit rough. And then thereafter started to improve. I just spent the time sitting about, watching television, drinking lots of fizzy drinks and taking a healthy dose of paracetamol.

"I had a bout of proper flu in 2018, you know, the sort that puts your head down on the pillow and you can't move, even if you were offered a 50 pound note on the floor beside you, you would just say no, I'll pass. 

"Well Covid for me was nothing like that.  I felt lousy. But a couple of days of rest and, you know, the rest of the time I've just been putting in my mandatory self isolation, which officially passed.

"So yes, I hope now that's me being through Covid and if everything they say is right I should now be coursing with with natural immunity or antibodies or whatever."