Decision on lockdown opening at the weekend

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This weekend, the government will decide how to proceed with the lockdown, i.e. which opening steps should take place from January 25. Tomorrow there will still be talks with the provincial governors and social partners.

However, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) put the brakes on overly high expectations in an interview with the APA yesterday: The situation is a “highly volatile” one, one must continue to “proceed extremely cautiously,” he said.

Currently, Austria has around 2,000 new infections per day, and the 7-day incidence is around 150, putting it in the best third within the EU in terms of new infections, Kurz said. “This means that the lockdown, the waiver, the measures have of course had their effect,” the chancellor said.

No details yet
“Nevertheless, it must be said that the situation is a highly volatile one,” Kurz said. He pointed to numerous mutations of the virus, saying the British variant, for example, is significantly more contagious and thus a “massive challenge.” In many EU countries, the British variant has already appeared strongly, he said.

“We must therefore continue to proceed extremely cautiously so as not to destroy what we have worked for,” Kurz said. The chancellor did not yet give details of what opening steps there might be.

However, in view of the economic relevance, it can be assumed that the first cautious opening steps will affect the retail sector – at present, only grocery stores, drugstores and pharmacies are open. It is quite conceivable that in future more emphasis could be placed on the higher-quality FFP2 masks and stricter distance rules.

Most recently, the federal rescue commander of the Red Cross, Gerry Foitik, had clearly pleaded for the wearing of an FFP2 mask instead of a simple mouth-nose protection and more distance.

Also President of the Economic Chamber Harald Mahrer would have nothing against an obligation to wear a FFP2 mask in the trade: If that is the price for an opening, “why not, should be implemented immediately”.

Schools wait
The planned start of school also raises many questions: Who goes to class in which group and when? How will CoV tests be administered? And will there even be a semester report card? Schools are waiting for details.

  • with reports from orf.at/picture: pixabay.com
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