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Unvaccinated People in Austria Locked Down

Cases are surging in the Alpine nation with health services coming under growing pressures. It comes as ski resorts open and others are preparing for the approaching season. UPDATED

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It means people who have not been vaccinated won’t be able to leave home, except for essential reasons like going to work, buying food or for exercise.

They are already banned from using ski lifts and from going to restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers.

Other measures have also been announced this week including extending the compulsory wearing of  FFP2 masks, banning the sale of alcohol at Christmas markets and cancelling many large events over the coming few weeks.

Across the whole of Austria there are 894 confirmed cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period (figures taken on 11th November).

The figure for Upper Austria is 1,442 new cases per 100,000 people.

In Salzburg it is 1,520.

As a comparison it is 352 in the UK.

Of the other main alpine ski nations Switzerland has 225, France 94 and Italy 72.

Hospitals in Upper Austria are now under severe strain.

The head of an intensive care unit told Die Presse that care was being allocated based on urgency and may not be given to all patients that needed it.

Prof Eva Schernhammer, of the Medical University of Vienna, said the measures were needed.

She warned that hospital intensive care units were filling up. “It’s already forecast that we’ll have reached the limit within two weeks,” she said.

“The situation is dramatic,” said the regional governor, Thomas Stelzer.

The Austria Corona Commission says there is a serious threat to medical care for the whole country as cases rise.

Last week new covid-19 measures were introduced in Austria, but these are now deemed not to be enough by the authorities as cases continue to rise.

We reported on the measures earlier:

Last Friday, 12th November, the Federal Government met to decide if it would allow the move to go ahead and confirmed it.

The Austrian chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, said that a national lockdown for the unvaccinated was ‘probably inevitable’.

“Our aim is clear: we want to give the green light for a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated,” he said at a news conference on Friday.

So it has turned out to be with measures passed on Sunday.

Mountain restaurant, Austria

Mountain restaurant, Austria. Image c/o PlanetSKI

Vaccination is seen as the key to beating the pandemic, but in Austria only 63% of the total population have been vaccinated,

For comparison with some other ski nations it is 80% in Spain, 72% in Italy, 69% in France and 65% in Switzerland.  It is 23% in Bulgaria.

The UK stands at 67%.

Chancellor Schallenberg described the Austria vaccination rate as “shameful”.

Ski resorts are looking closely at the developments and the spread of Covid-19 in Austria as the winter season approaches.

The resorts in Austria are beginning to open with several resorts already offering skiing on their glaciers and high altitude areas.

They include Hintertux, Soelden, Pitztal, Stubai, Kaunertal, Kaprun and Kitzbuhel.

Other resorts such as Ischgl and Obergurgl open towards the end of November, with more following suit in December.

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Austria/Italy border

Image © PlanetSKI

Here are the details of the new rules in Upper Austria and Salzburg as reported by The Local, Austria:

Upper Austria

  • ‘Night gastronomy’ venues must close until December 6th. That’s primarily bars and night clubs, but also some late-night dining venues.
  • There’s a blanket ban on large events until December 6th, with an exception only for the professional sports and culture sector, as long as they have an FFP2 mask mandate and assigned seating.
  • Christmas markets may take place, but FFP2 masks must be worn, and consumption on-site is not allowed (though buying food or drink to take away is permitted).
  • From Monday, FFP2 mask mandates will also apply in all enclosed indoor spaces, for example in restaurants except while seated.

Salzburg

  • The FFP2 mask mandate has been extended to cover all enclosed indoor spaces and events where the 2G rule previously applied. This includes places with the 2G rule such as services requiring close physical contact like hairdressers or salons, events over 25 people, and Christmas markets for example. They must also be worn in restaurants except while seated.
  • No sale of alcohol allowed at Christmas markets.
  • In restaurants, food and drink may only be consumed when seated, whether indoors or outdoors.

Questions are being raised about how the restrictions will be enforced.

The authorities are asking people to follow the rules to protect their own health and others.

“We do not live in a police state. We cannot and do not want to check every street corner,” said  The Austrian chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg.

The police have said they will carry out spot-checks at busy places such as shopping centres and areas with a high number of restaurants.

This is the first lockdown to affect only unvaccinated people.

In previous lockdowns in Austria people breaking the rules could be fined up to €1,450.

There have been demonstrations against the messures with more planned.

The far-right ‘Freedom Party’ is oppposing the new measures and is planning demonstrations.

Its leader, Herbert Kichl, has today, Monday 15th, announced he has tested positive.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people protested outside the chancellery in Vienna.

One placard read “Our bodies, our freedom to decide.”

“It is totally discriminatory what is happening here,” one protestor said according to the BBC.

Image © PlanetSKI

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