Austria Extends Some Lockdown Restrictions but Eases Others

The government, opposition parties, scientific advisers and regional authorities met throughout the day on Monday. The alpine nation’s lockdown is due to end on February 7th. What are the changes and how will they affect ski resorts?

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Cases of Covid-19 have been steadily coming down in recent weeks in Austria.

The number of people per 100,000 of population infected over a 7-day period is 105.

Higher than its target of 50, but most commentators believe Austria has done well in recent weeks.

The number is 177 in France, 145 in Italy and 142 in Switzerland.

In the UK the figure stands at 301.

In November and December Austria had 5,000 cases per day, now it is 2,000.

Its lockdown measures have had an impact.

Ski resorts remain open but it is mainly just the lifts turning with most other facilities shut.

It appears that hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes in ski resorts, and elsewhere, will have to wait longer before being allowed to reopen.

The lifts will continue turning – pleasing skiers and snowboarders + the resorts.

Though at present extreme caution is advised with all the recent fresh snow.

Border controls, including Austria’s quarantine requirement, are set to remain in place for the foreseeable future and will likely be tightened.

They will be discussed in more depth on February 15th, said Austria’s Health Minister, Rudolf Anschober.

It is thought Austria will impose further significant border controls to prevent people bringing in new variants of the coronavirus.

There are some internal lockdown restrictions being lifted and the ski resorts see this as move in the right direction.

“Epidemiologically the issue is clear. The safest course would be to remain in lockdown,” said the Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.

“But we know there is also children’s need to go back to school, there is the necessity of doing everything to keep unemployment as low as possible and there are of course also the social and psychological aspects that must also be taken into account,” he said.

The easing will start on February 8th.

There has been much speculation in Austria media in the past few days about the measures and most reports seem to be accurate.

Here at PlanetSKI we looked at the possibilities earlier:

So, what are the details?

  • Austria’s 24-hour stay at home order turn is set to turn into a night curfew and apply between 8pm and 6am.
  • There will be some relaxation for non-essential shops.
  • Schools will see a return to classroom lessons, however this will be done with divided classes.
  • Teachers and students will be tested weekly.

“We have agreed that the schools should return to classroom teaching after the semester break,” said Chancellor Kurz.

  • Hairdressers, tattoo parlours and massage services – will again be allowed to open. These services will be subject to strict hygiene measures.
  • FFP2 masks will need to be worn and there will be maximum numbers of people per square metre. Contact details will need to be recorded and people will also be required to show a negative  Covid-19 test, less than 48-hours old.
  • Museums, libraries and art galleries can  open and again. FFP2 masks will be required and limits will be placed on the numbers of people.

Austria had considered further lifting of restrictions but there are concerns about mutations of the virus that have already been recorded in Austria.

Chancellor Kurz has called upon people to take responsibility to ensure infection numbers continue to fall in the coming weeks.

“Once again, the responsibility of each individual in the country will play an important role,” he said.

Last weekend several thousand people protested in Vienna against coronavirus restrictions.

They were faced by police in riot gear after the protests were banned.

Some waved banners, calling for Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz to go.

The crowd consisted mainly of right activists, coronavirus deniers and those opposed to lockdown restrictions.

The atmosphere was described as “tense’.

Some arrests were made but it was largely trouble-free.

Further discussions over detail will continue this week.

All of the measures are expected to be taken across the whole of Austria without regional variations.

“Together with the experts, we will once again discuss how we can create openings in the first areas very carefully and in a controlled manner without taking too high a risk,” said Austria’s Health Minister, Rudolf Anschober.

Related Stories:

In St Anton in the Tirol there has been a recent crackdown on foreigners who have broken the rules and continue to flout restrictions.

There have also been outbreaks of Covid-19 on ski instructor training courses.

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