The announcement was made on Wednesday evening at a press conference by Health Minister Rudolf Anschober together with Governors Michael Ludwig (Vienna), Johanna Mikl-Leitner (Lower Austria) and Hans-Peter Doskozil (Burgenland).
Several lockdown measures will be adopted, including a 24-hour stay at home order, the closure of all non-essential shops and services, as well as an extension of the school holidays.
What measures will be adopted?
The government outlined nine measures which would be put in place as part of the tightened lockdown.
The lockdown is set to come into effect from Thursday, April 1st – traditionally the first day of Easter. Some measures may end on April 6th, while others will remain in place indefinitely.
1: Close contact services like hairdressers and cosmetic services will be closed from April 1st until April 6th.
2: Non-essential shops (i.e. retail) will be forced to close. Only supermarkets and pharmacies will be allowed to open (from April 1st until the 6th).
3: FFP2 masks will be required outdoors wherever crowds form
4: Commuters from risk areas must be tested twice per week, while police will carry out more border checks.
5: FFP2 masks will be required in indoor settings where more than one person is present.
6: Companies are to ask employees to work from home or be tested at least once per week.
7: Schools will go to distance learning after the Easter break (i.e. no face-to-face lessons)
8: If retail opens again on April 7th – which is by no means certain and depends on infections and hospitalisations – people will need to show evidence of a negative test to go into non-essential stores
9: A 24-hour stay at home order will come into effect, whereby you can only leave the house for certain exceptions.
More information as to when you can leave your house is available at the following link.
Anschober said that the measures may be extended across the country if infections continue to rise.
“Eastern Austria is a pilot region, it could easily be the same in other federal states.”
New variant to blame
Ludwig told the press that if these measures did not work in curbing rising infection rates and hospitalisations, an extended lockdown would be imposed.
“If we don’t see results in a timely manner, we will have to go beyond this package,” says the Mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig.
“Eastern Austria is much more confronted with the ‘British variant’, which is also related to the neighbouring countries Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where the variant is widespread. Vorarlberg is doing better there, the British variant is currently less widespread in Switzerland and Germany”, said Ludwig.
“Until now we believed that school is less affected. We now see it differently. Not everyone should go back to school immediately, the risk of infection there is very high,” says Ludwig.
Seven day incidence is at 243
The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 243.
The number is highest in Vienna (312), followed by Salzburg (298.9). The value is lowest in Vorarlberg (78.1) and Styria (190.8). Around 3,415 newly coronavirus infections were registered on Tuesday.
A record number of people are in intensive care with coronavirus in Vienna and planned operations are being postponed.
Patients are younger and have more severe cases of the disease due to the British mutation of the virus Der Standard newspaper reports.