No Corona loosening: Measures planned for eastern region

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Austria refrains from further nationwide steps in the Corona crisis for the time being. The provinces of Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland will hold another summit to discuss their own measures.

Corona summit without results
After the Corona summit of the federal government and the states on how to further combat the pandemic, it is now clear: for the time being, there will be neither relaxations nor tightenings. However, further “measures” will be discussed between the Ministry of Health and the states of the eastern region in a summit, as Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) announced at a press conference on Monday evening.

Further opening steps after Easter only if the situation is stable
The head of government justified the omission of openings, for example, of the guest gardens with the fact that the experts had made corresponding assessments. Only in Vorarlberg one will continue the pilot attempt. Where after Easter the situation at the intensive care units is stable, it will come likewise to relaxations.

For the Easter vacations, by the way, in contrast to original considerations, no special rule is planned as for Christmas, as Health Minister Rudolf Anschober explained. That is, the contact restrictions remain in the current extent. The tests are being expanded in such a way that self-tests are now also being carried out under supervision in the test streets, which is intended to further increase capacities, especially at Easter.

Immediate measures in regions with incidence above 400
In regions where the incidence rate exceeds 400 per 100,000 inhabitants, immediate measures will have to be taken in the future. That one wants to proceed further regionally, was actually already explained last Monday – it did not become much more concrete this Monday also for the time being. The incidence of 400 triggers an “automatism” for action, but depending on the region, the measures can be different, Kurz referred to a “toolbox” of possibilities ranging from exit tests to distance learning.

For the time being, however, there was no talk of school closures. Vienna’s mayor, Michael Ludwig (SPÖ), also wants to prevent these as far as possible and assured that he would rely on the most lenient means possible at the summit with the Ministry of Health, which will take place in the coming days. However, he can imagine even more rigid measures if a case occurs in a class.

In Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland, after all, there is a problem with the spread of the British variant and thus a “tense situation” in intensive care, as Kurz put it. Together with the Ministry of Health, measures to counteract are to be negotiated from Tuesday evening. The fact that in the east region the trade must close again, should not threaten: There are safety measures in trade and no major contagions are seen there, Ludwig explained, and Kurz also said that trade is “definitely not an area where we have a problem.”

More infectious and dangerous: warning of British mutation
Oswald Wagner, vice rector of Med Uni Vienna, reminded the audience that the British variant is much more infectious and dangerous – 1.3 percent of those infected have to go to intensive care, he explained. The key concern is to protect intensive care units from overuse, Anschober stressed. The minister also appealed to the young population to be careful and adhere to the measures. This is because the virus is increasingly affecting young people who have to be taken to intensive care units, he said.

In any case, the number of infections per se should no longer be the sole criterion for decisions in the future. The situation in the intensive care units and the vaccination rate must also be taken into account. In terms of vaccination, Kurz assured that every willing Austrian will receive at least a first partial vaccination before the summer. In April, the focus will be on the over-65s, in May on the over-50s, and then from June it will be the turn of the younger ones. “In the summer, we will be able to return to normality,” the “light at the end of the tunnel” is near, the chancellor affirmed.

Experts rejected relaxation in eastern region
As usual, the first to speak on Monday were the experts who, in view of the high number of cases and the increasingly critical situation in the intensive care units in the eastern region, rejected relaxations. They reportedly advocated a basic requirement to wear FFP2 masks indoors, another testing offensive, and a home office requirement for the eastern region where it can be implemented.

Divided opinions on the opening of restaurants
According to information from the hearing, the governors of Lower Austria, Burgenland and Vienna still considered it more sensible to at least open the guest gardens. Argument: in such a way the private meetings, which take place anyway, would move in regulated courses. Vorarlberg’s Governor Markus Wallner (ÖVP) also emphasized that people should not believe that they would not meet just because politics forbade it. In any case, he wants to maintain the opening steps set in his province.

— source: APA and vienna.at/picture: pixabay.com

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