Austria: Which states could be set for relaxed coronavirus measures?

Austria: Which states could be set for relaxed coronavirus measures?
Could some parts of Austria open up quicker than others? Photo: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP
Austria is considering changing course with coronavirus lockdowns, with regional or state-wide loosening now on the table.

The much hoped for relaxation of lockdown is unlikely to happen across Austria, as infections are on the rise, including the mutated strains of the virus.

However, some regions which have not experienced a surge in infections may be allowed to open further.

The government is considering relaxations at a regional level according to the APA press agency. Vorarlberg, for instance, which has a low seven day incidence of 27.8, could act as a test area.

According to the APA, the government says health experts are also in favour of a regionally adapted approach. 

‘Rapid spread’

On Sunday, a very high number of 2,123 infections was reported.

Health minister Rudolph Anschober said the main driver of these increases was the “rapid spread” of the more contagious mutations throughout Europe, including in Austria.

Anschober said the British variant was already dominant in the majority of Austrian federal states. The new variant is believed to increase the reproduction rate of the virus by 0.22%. 

State

Seven day incidence 

Vorarlberg

27.8

Tyrol

99.3

Salzburg

185.9

Carinthia

177.5

Styria

158

Upper Austria

132

Lower Austria

196.2

Vienna

186.6

Burgenland

169.5

In  Vienna, where infections have soared to 186.6 and Lower Austria, where infection rates are almost at 200, any further opening looks unlikely.

Both regions have experienced early on the spread of the more infectious British variant of coronavirus.

Also, schools in Vienna and Lower Austria opened a week earlier, which could also be having an effect on the numbers. 

Further closures possible

Experts and virologists have warned against further openings, with the corona traffic light commission even saying further closures are possible if incidences rise above 200 per 100,000 people, but there have been increasing calls from the restaurant industry and regional Austrian governors to open up the economy again. 

Announcement today at 5pm

Today the government will meet a group of experts including the virologist Dorothee von Laer, the epidemiologist Eva Schernhammer and the Vice Rector of the Medical University of Vienna Oswald Wagner. Then the opposition will be involved via video conference as well as federal state governors. There will be an announcement at 5pm to decide what openings will be allowed. 

Mathematician Niki Popper told broadcaster ORF’s Ö1 morning journal that experts have been recommending for a long time something could be done on a regional level, adding that mutations as well as  the numbers of infections should be taken into account.


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