Austria Extends Lockdown
17th January 2021
Last modified on January 18th, 2021
It was due to end on January 25th but has been extended until February 7th at the earliest. Ski resorts remain open, but for locals only.
Extra measures have also been introduced including extending the minimum distance between people from 1m to 2m.
This will impact on the queuing systems in ski resorts and the amount of people allowed on gondolas and cable cars.
Restaurants, bars and hotels remain closed.
FFP2 masks are now required on public transport and in shops from 25th January.
The FFP2 masks offer better protection against the coronavirus and other pathogens, with up to 94% of aerosols filtered out.
The government said schools may re-open on February 8th
The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said he expected “two to three hard months” as the country continued to battle high coronavirus infection rates.
Opening the country now “would not be courageous but it would be reckless – it would be negligence,” he said
Kurz said the situation warranted an extension to the lockdown “even if we are already fed up with it”.
Some ski resorts, including Ischgl and Saalbach, have not yet opened for the season as they worry about breaking even financially or being unable to prevent border crossings.
The Molltal Glacier area closed in last December as it reportedly didn’t have enough visitors to make it financially viable.
Austria currently has a seven-day infection rate of 130 per 100,000 people – well above the target of 50.
It is below its neighbours – Switzerland is 210.
While Italy is 192 and Germany 160.
By comparison the UK is at 558.
A major reason for the extension is the prevalence of the coronavirus mutation across Austria that was originally detected in the United Kingdom.
The ski resort of Jochberg has seen an outbreak with British trainee ski instructors infected.
17 out of the 24 cases in the resort of the GB variation of the virus,
The neighbouring resorts of Kitzbuhel has also seen 10 infections.
It is due to hold the Hahnenkamm race next weekend, but it is in question and coronavirus cases are being monitored.
At present it is still set to go ahead.
Everyone in the area is being offered a coronavirus test to establish how widespread the infection is.
At the weekend there were further, extensive interviews with the participants of the ski group in Jochberg.
4,200 people in the district of Kitzbühel were PCR tested at the weekend.
There were no further virus mutation detected in tests.
On Saturday 10,000 marched in the capital Vienna, protesting against the current restrictions.
The move comes a day after thousands marched in Vienna to protest over restrictions.
Austria, with a population of 8.9m people, has recorded more than 390,000 cases and 7,000 deaths from the virus.
“The current national lockdown will be extended until February 7.,” said the ski resort of St Anton on Facebook on Sunday.
“This was decided by the federal government today. In mid-February, the government will evaluate and a decision should be made as to whether an opening (hotels/restaurants) in March will be possible.”
Gastronomy and accommodation businesses will be closed until the end of February.
Tourist travel is de facto possible again from the beginning of March 2021 at the earliest.
Events are also prohibited until then.
“The situation for these areas will be evaluated and reassessed in mid-February. Outdoor sports, such as skiing or ice skating, are still allowed for locals and day visitors under strict safety requirements,” said a statement from the Tirol.
The country has 10-day quarantine requirement for people arriving from abroad.
There is also mandatory online registration for people who enter the country.
Registration data include names, contact details and exact location before entering Austria.
The registered person must also fill in the address at which he/she will reside in Austria and, if possible, the duration of stay.
Those arriving from countries with low incidence of coronavirus are not quarantined, but they are also must register online.
People who enter Austria every day to work, transit passengers and arrivals for imperative family reasons are exempt from registration and quarantine.