Lockdown in eastern Austria: retail closes, distance learning, curfew

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Exit restrictions, extended FFP2 mask requirements, commuter controls and more: corona measures for Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland will be tightened from April 1 to 6. Further readjustments are not excluded.

The governors of Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland, Michael Ludwig (SPÖ), Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) and Hans Peter Doskozil (SPÖ), as well as Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Grüne), hope to be able to curb the number of infections with the coronavirus, and in particular with its British mutant, after a marathon of negotiations with stricter measures – a “cool down,” as they call it. Whether this will succeed remains to be seen.

“We are in a very difficult situation in Europe,” with these words Anschober opened the press conference at 7:30 pm. We are currently “in the third wave, 19 EU member states have strongly increasing numbers, including Austria”. It is therefore all the more important, on the one hand, to bring the numbers down again in general and, on the other hand, to prevent intensive care units in hospitals from being overloaded. The latter is to be feared at present particularly in Eastern Austria. The main reason: the more contagious, “dynamic” British variant of the virus.

In concrete terms, this means that there will be a lockdown in eastern Austria from April 1 to 6:

Round-the-clock exit restrictions with the usual exceptions (work, walks/individual sports, care of persons in need of support, averting danger/medical routes) will be imposed.
Retail and body-related service providers must close, except for vital stores like supermarkets and pharmacies. Likewise, museums, zoos and exhibition houses will close.
In the days following the Easter vacations, students will be taught via distance learning until April 9. After that, students are to gradually return to classes – and undergo PCR testing. However, these are not to be admission tests, but rather additional screening.
Also, from April 1 to 11:

  • A FFP2 mask requirement will be implemented for outdoor crowds.
  • A FFP2 mask requirement will also be introduced in enclosed spaces where more than one person is present.
  • Commuters from risk areas will be subjected to stricter controls: they will have to be tested twice a week. There will be more checks at the borders – especially with the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
  • Compulsory company tests once a week and intensified home office will be introduced.
  • From April 7 to 10, when trade and body-related service providers reopen, there will be access tests. Exactly what these will look like has yet to be clarified, as this will require an amendment in the National Council and the Federal Council. The access tests will not apply to areas where life is essential.
  • Further tightening not ruled out

“If we don’t see results in a timely manner, we will have to go beyond this package,” added Vienna Mayor Ludwig. Just six weeks ago, he said, the figures in the federal capital were good, but now the tide has turned – a situation that has already been observed in other federal states. The state governor said he was confident that the tide could be turned again. However: “There is an urgency” to act. We still have to get through the next “eight to ten weeks until a larger part of the population has been vaccinated” and people can lead a normal life again.

“We previously believed that the school would be less affected, but we now see it differently,” Ludwig added. Therefore, they have agreed that not all students should come back to classes at the same time, respectively only those who can show a negative test. Because: “The risk of infection there is very high.”

Everyone must help “to reverse the trend”
Lower Austria’s Governor Mikl-Leitner called the measures “necessary, right and important.” Experts had urgently warned of the critical situation in hospitals: “The virus does not stop at borders,” she stressed. Therefore, they have decided to reduce the period of validity of the tests for commuters to 72 hours. She would have liked to announce that trade would remain open, “I have always advocated for this,” Mikl-Leitner admitted. However, expert opinions differed on this point. The conclusion: “We deliberately decided against a two-week lockdown, we deliberately decided on a four-day rest period from April 1 to 6.

No one in politics wants to be held responsible for someone not getting an intensive care bed when they need one, added Doskozil, head of Burgenland. For this reason, he said, there is a need for cohesion across party lines. And: it needs every single citizen. “If we cannot credibly communicate the meaningfulness of the measures to the population, they will not work,” the former defense minister warned. He said he could understand that people had grown tired, but that everyone needed to be involved “in order to reverse the trend.

— source: diepresse.at/picture: picture:

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