Austria Goes into Full Lockdown as Covid-19 Continues to Surge
14th November 2020
Last modified on November 16th, 2020
The alpine nation is seeing a sharp rise and measures taken so far do not appear to have worked. Ski resorts are already closed to the general public and it is grim news as winter approaches. UPDATED
The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, announced the new measures on Saturday.
“My pressing demand for the coming weeks is as follows, don’t meet anyone. Every social contact is one too many,” the Chancellor said.
“There are still many who say that infections don’t happen in schools, shops or services. But the truth is 77% of new infections can not be traced by the authorities which means they no longer know where contamination is happening”.
There are already strict measures in Austria including a night-time curfew with restrictions on events, shopping, leisure activities and limits to gatherings.
We reported on it earlier:
However, cases have continued to rise sharply.
People will have to stay at home all day with only some exceptions such as for shopping or exercise.
The measures will come into force on Tuesday and remain until December 6th.
The immediate impact on the ski areas in Austria will be severe.
Many have spent much money and time to meet all regulations and it will come as a sharp blow as the season is about to get underway.
However it is hoped the new restrictions will help stop the spread and, though it will damage the start of winter, it could mean the remainder can be enjoyed with some normality.
Several Austrian resorts, including Obergurgl and Ischgl, normally open at the end of November and a huge number had planned to open on Friday 4th/Saturday 5th December.
These openings will now be delayed as restrictions remain in place until Sunday 6th December.
Planned early season snowsports events have been hit by the pandemic .
But some are still allowed to take place, under strict conditions.
One that will be held is the FIS Freeski World Cup in Stubai in the Tirol from November 18th – 21st.
Many of the glacier resorts in Austria opened last month, but then closed after restrictions were introduced at the beginning of November.
“We are currently planning to reopen our glacier and winter ski resort on December 3rd, 2020 depending on the then applicable guidelines and weather conditions,” said the resort of Soelden as it closed.
That date will not now be possible.
“We would like to thank all our guests.We are already looking forward to welcoming you again and wish you all the best and above all health until then,” Soelden added.
There has been mixed reaction from some of our readers in Austria.
“Shame about the latest lockdown but definitely necessary,” said one of our readers who lives in Austria.
“I hope the measurements work and the numbers drop.”
Another who has been skiing in Austria this autumn had a different view saying, “the cure is worse than the problem it’s trying to solve.”
Daily new cases in Austria hit a record of 9,586 on Friday, nine times higher than at the first wave’s peak.
It had a further 53 deaths.
It has 551 new cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Of the alpine nations only Switzerland is higher on 556.
France is 443, Italy 400 and Germany 158.
The UK stands on 251.
The Austria Health Minister, Rudolf Anschober, said it was the last chance to stop the health service from collapsing under the pressure of new infections.
He said Austrians had already done it once and they could do it again.
Austria has generally been judged to have done well in dealing with the pandemic across the first wave, though some of its ski resorts were seen as super-spreaders at the very start as the virus spread.
The authorities in Austria came in for some criticism in an official report into the early handling of the pandemic.
Ski resorts in Italy, Switzerland and France have also been judged to be super-spreaders and the Austrian resorts were by no means alone.
New Measures (17th November – 6th December)
- All nonessential shops will close
- Service providers such as hairdressers will shut.
- Secondary schools have already switched to distance learning
- Schools for younger ages that are still open will do the same while providing childcare when necessary.
- People should work from home where possible
Fuel stations, tobacconists, banks, pharmacies and bicycle shops are allowed to remain open.
Austria has already agreed to give €100 to each worker in the hospitality sector
The Austria Tourism Department said it would be available to full-time workers as well as part-time staff and those on apprenticeships.
It will benefit many people in the ski resorts as bars, restaurants and hotels remain closed under coronavirus restrictions.
It is estimated it will cost €1.5b – €2b.
The government is reported to have made plans for extra payments as the country has now introduced a full lockdown until December 6th.