Tirol in Isolation in Austria with Border to Germany Closed
9th February 2021
Last modified on May 13th, 2021
The Federal government has declared the Austrian state a ‘restricted’ zone over worries about the spread of variant coronavirus. The German government has closed its border with the Tirol describing it as a coronavirus ‘mutation area’.
The measures are in place to stop the spread of the virus and protect people.
From Friday February 12th no-one has been allowed to leave the Tirol and head to another part of the country without a negative test.
If they do so then they face a fine of €1,450 (£1,275).
The measure is in place for 10-days in the first instance.
The police are monitoring the situation in what has been described as “one of the largest police operations in recent years”.
The armed forces have been deployed to control federal and state highways as well as Innsbruck Airport and the railway lines.
There are exceptions for children, members of the emergency services and people transiting the province without stopping.
The measures do not apply to East Tirol, which is geographically separate from the rest of the province.
The Austrian government has opted against placing the whole of Tirol under quarantine, a decision that has been criticised by some opposition politicians and virologists.
The German government has announced a ban on travel from the Tirol.
“The states of Bavaria and Saxony today asked the government to class Tirol and the border regions of the Czech Republic as virus mutation areas, and to implement border controls,” said the Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer.
The German border controls have been approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel and come into force on Sunday.
The Tirol has more than 400 cases of the South African variant that appears to be more infectious and more resistant to current vaccines.
Most new cases are in the Schwaz area.
A soldier who was in Schwaz on leave returned to his barracks in the state of Styria with the virus and several other soldiers contracted the virus.
The respected virologist, Dorothee von Laer, says the Tirol is now considered a European hotspot for the South African mutant of the coronavirus (B.1.351).
“For almost a year now, we have been challenged to fight the pandemic. It has become more difficult and more diffuse in the last few weeks,” said the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz
“We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this variant, if that does not succeed, the spread must be slowed down.
“If the variants spread quickly, it would cost many lives and the path to normality would be further delayed.
“Therefore, Tirol is initially declared a restricted area for ten days.”
It is hoped the new rules will restrict the spread of the virus and will be eased as soon as practical.
Last Monday, as talks went on, advice on travel was issued by the Federal government as the Tirol put forward the measures it wanted to see introduced.
Talks went on over last weekend.
The state has not gone back into lockdown.
The ski slopes remain open for locals only with many facilities such as restaurants, bars and hotels shut.
There were plans by the Tirol to stop people visiting second homes or ski apartments/chalets in the mountains.
It said earlier it wants to ask people to avoid unnecessary trips.
It said cable car trips in ski resorts should only be allowed only with a negative PCR test result.
The state also wants comprehensive PCR tests to be introduced in areas with a high seven-day incidence.
This week Austria has relaxed many of its Covid-19 restrictions.
Austria’s 24-hour stay at home order turn is now a night curfew and applies between 8pm and 6am.
Hairdressers, tattoo parlours and massage services – are allowed to open.
These services are subject to strict hygiene measures.
FFP2 masks 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.
Classroom lessons have returned to schools with divided classes.
Teachers and students are tested weekly.
The loosening of restrictions in Austria has been met with criticism from its neighbour Germany, particularly in regions which border the alpine state.
In Germany the number of new confirmed cases has fallen to 75 per 100,000 people over a 7-day period.
That’s down from a peak of nearly 200 just before Christmas.
The government target in Germany is to reduce that number to 50.
The level in Austria is 106.
It is 208 in France, 139 in Italy and 122 in Switzerland.
The UK stands at 193.
Germany has also closed its border with the Czech Republic where new cases remain among the highest in Europe – 484 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Long traffic queues have built up at the Czech-German border, including many lorries with goods vital to the German economy.
Germany is in lockdown until 7th March and entry is being limited to lorry drivers, medics and those with residence permits.
The Czech Republic has one of the highest death tolls per head of population of anywhere in the world.
With a population of 10.7m is has seen 16,976 deaths.
Ski resorts remain closed though some are flouting the spirit of the rules, if not the regulations themselves.