Austria’s lockdown is currently in place until February 7th, but may be extended further into the year.
Virologist Dorothee von Laer made an announcement on Tuesday morning that a decision on extending the lockdown would be made next week, i.e. the first week of February.
She said that the government and the opposition were in broad agreement about the effectiveness of Austria’s lockdown measures.
“Unfortunately, school closures have been effective” she said, acknowledging that many throughout Austria want schools to start face-to-face lessons again.
Von Laer said there was no “black and white” decision made yet on extending the lockdown, but promised the government would develop a “well-balanced plan”.
‘Highly theoretical’ debate
The opposition Freedom Party of Austria chairman Norbert Hofer told Austrian media that Monday evenings discussion was “highly theoretical” and that a decision would likely be made on February 1st.
“It was – in part because experts took part in the conference – a highly theoretical debate. There were few concrete answers,” he said.
Hofer said he was sceptical of the effectiveness of the measures.
“Although representatives from government and experts shared my impression that the lockdown is having less and less effect due to fatigue with the measures, I also have the feeling that the government no longer really knows how to take people along on this path against the coronavirus”
New case numbers however indicate that the measures are having an effect. While Austria was recording upwards of of 5,000 new cases daily in November and December, daily case numbers have fallen below 2,000 in recent days.