Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says when lockdown will make sense again

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Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (VP) was on “Bild live” in Germany Wednesday night. He spoke about lockdown scenarios and further openings.

“As many restrictions as necessary, as much freedom as possible” – Sebastian Kurz (VP) outlined the Austrian government’s pandemic management in a live talk with Germany’s Bild newspaper Wednesday night. In conversation with deputy editor-in-chief (and Kurz biographer) Paul Ronzheimer, the chancellor talked about the first opening steps Austria has dared to take (earlier than Germany) with the opening of trade, schools and body-related service providers.

Kurz also explained his motives for this step more openly than ever before: “A lockdown if no one participates makes no sense,” the head of government explained. He added that the numbers in Austria had recently stopped going down. “A lockdown loses its power when fewer and fewer people join in,” Kurz said. To then “extend this immeasurably” makes “no sense”; Austria has therefore dared to take cautious opening steps.

Result: “The contagion figures are rising as expected, we have an upward trend due to the opening steps.” Against this background, Ronzheimer asked about a possible fourth hard lockdown in Austria. Kurz: “Nobody can rule that out – that’s quite clear.” He added that the pandemic is proceeding in waves – and “the third wave is now coming our way. That’s how it is,” Kurz summed up the situation. The crucial question now, he said, is “how high do the numbers rise and how fast?” Austria is now in a “race against time.” Every person who is vaccinated, he said, means a step closer to normality. The warm season will also ease the situation, Kurz said.

When will a lockdown make sense again? “When people get back into it,” Kurz said. In Austria, he said, it had been seen that the situation had not improved in the last two lockdown weeks. “It was a sideways movement,” Kurz said. The chancellor cannot rule out further tough measures in the future: “If the numbers rise drastically, it will be necessary to implement tightening measures again.”

If the infection numbers were to “explode again,” Kurz says there would be “more strength in the population again to support a lockdown.”

Kurz sees the high number of tests now achieved as a proven way out of the crisis: “The more you test, the more positives you can take out of circulation without infecting others.” Kurz admitted that he had been “massively criticized by the right-wing party FPÖ” for this. During the test in front of the barber shop, “there was almost a popular uprising at first, but now it has normalized.”

He can understand that Austrians are tired of the multitude of measures after a year of the pandemic: “Of course people are frustrated, you can’t blame anyone. It’s grueling and exhausting. Many people become lonely. The economic consequences are also enormous.” But one has to ask what the alternative is, he said. In short: “Letting the situation escalate, that can’t be a positive alternative.” He added that one must “prevent the intensive care capacities from overflowing, that people have to die who don’t have to die yet.”

Addressing a possible opening of the catering industry – this government plan was reported by “Today” on Wednesday – Kurz said, “Further opening steps will be decided on Monday. We are proceeding very cautiously and continue to rely on intensive testing.” Ahead of us now, he said, would still be “some arduous, difficult months – with restrictions.” But, the chancellor said optimistically, “As of the summer, we’ll have our old life back again, and that’s a good thing.”

  • source: heute.at/picture: pixabay.com
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