The COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to a significant decline in democratic values across the globe as many countries have taken aggressive and authoritarian steps to attempt to curb the virus.
The last two years have indeed been littered with examples of previously unheard-of government powers on display in the U.S.
Outside the U.S., places like Austria and Australia continue to rachet up authoritarian restrictions on public interactions and economic behavior—even for people who have been vaccinated. According to the report, 69 countries have made violating COVID restrictions an imprisonable offense, with two-thirds of those countries being ones the group considers to be democracies. Albania and Mexico have the most punitive laws on the books, allowing prison sentences of 15 years and 12 years, respectively, for violating pandemic-related protocols.