Austria to re-enter lockdown on December 26th

The Local Austria
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Austria to re-enter lockdown on December 26th
Photo: DPA

Austria announced on Friday it will enter its third coronavirus lockdown on December 26th, but those who take part in a planned series of mass testing programme in January will be allowed more freedoms.


Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Friday evening that Austria would enter a three-phase lockdown process in order to "return to normal". 

"We have decided that we will spend Christmas as planned, but then tighten the measures again," said Kurz.

The goal is to like to achieve a seven-day incidence of less than 100 cases per 100,000 residents and then keep the numbers low through mass tests, Kurz said.

Currently, Austria's seven-day incidence is at 205 per 100,000 residents

Austria relaxed lockdown measures somewhat on December 7th, but case numbers and fatalities have remained high. 

The measures were "the only possible way to re-open tourism, cultural life, restaurants and cafes during the pandemic and at the same time avoid numbers exploding again", Kurz said.

Three-phase plan

The first phase will include another coronavirus lockdown - set to come into effect on December 26th - in the hope of reducing infection numbers. 

Phase two will aim to keep coronavirus cases low, while phase three will represent a return to some form of normality for Austria's nine million citizens and residents. 


Lockdown from December 26th, mandatory testing to leave quarantine in January

Movement outside the home will once again be restricted to purposes such as buying food or taking exercise.

The lockdown measures include distance learning in all schools when they return on January 7th, with face-to-face lessons again allowed from January 18th. 

"The big request is, from December 26th on, don't meet anyone again," said the Chancellor.

From December 26th, a complete lockdown will again come into effect over a 24-hour period. 

In this period, non-essential stores will close as will services such as hairdressers where physical proximity is unavoidable.

There will however be another round of mass tests from January 16th to 18th, with those who test negative allowed to go shopping and meet people again.

"For all those who are not willing to be tested, the lockdown rules apply for a week longer," said the Chancellor.

Hotels and cultural venues will be expected to check test results on arrival, while the police will carry out random checks in other areas, Kurz said.

The measures were "the only possible way to re-open tourism, cultural life, restaurants and cafes during the pandemic and at the same time avoid numbers exploding again", Kurz said.

Those who do not take part in the mass tests will also have to wear FFP 2 masks where otherwise a simpler face covering would suffice, for example while at work or buying food.

Rules surrounding how and whether to allow outdoor sports -- including skiing -- will be left for local authorities to determine.



Mandatory testing for certain professions

Testing will be mandatory for people in certain professions.

These professions are: Teachers and elementary educators, hairdressers and other services where close contact is unavoidable, retail (only if direct customer contact), healthcare (all professions with patient contact) and the construction industry (preferably at company level). 

5,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic

On Friday, Austria crossed the grim milestone of 5,000 fatalities since the start of the pandemic, 

With 145 additional deaths on Friday, a total of 5,127 people have now died since the pandemic began in March in Austria. 

There were 2,085 cases recorded in Austria on Friday. 

The following chart shows how case numbers spiked - and how the second lockdown in November had an impact. 

Since Austria came out of its last lockdown earlier this month, the rate of new infections has mostly stayed between 2,000 and 3,000 per day but the government had said its aim was to get the daily rate under 1,000.

But nevertheless Kurz warned the prognosis for the first few months of 2021 was "very, very gloomy", with a return to normality only expected in the summer.



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Anonymous 2020/12/18 19:16
How in hell are they going to enforce staying at home for those that don't get tested, dumbest idea ever. This government continues to implement half measures, aimed at the short term, their long term outlook is just to the next election.

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