Until almost three in the morning on Tuesday, the governors of the states of Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland came to an agreement to implement stricter lockdown measures.
Coronavirus infections have “risen massively” in the eastern states, while hospitals and intensive care units are now at a critical level.
Austrian media reports that the discussions became heated, with Health Minister Rudolf Anschober and Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig experiencing resistance when pushing for tighter lockdown measures.
Anschober was pushing for a set of measures which would “really help to prevent the impending collapse of the hospitals”.
Lower Austria governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner is said to have pushed for lighter restrictions and was backed by several members of the federal chancellery, according to Austria’s Kurier newspaper.
What was decided at the meeting?
Austria is already operating under a tight nationwide lockdown which was extended last week until mid-April.
Austrian media reported this morning that the representatives from the meeting were adopting a policy of “total silence” with regard to the measures that were agreed, when they might begin and when they would expire.
An announcement is expected on Tuesday evening.
What kind of measures will be implemented?
At this stage, the measures which will be implemented in the three eastern states have not been confirmed or leaked to the Austrian media.
At the meeting, Anschober and Ludwig were pushing for an expansion of the FFP2 mask requirement, along with the closure of all shops other than grocery stores and pharmacies.
In addition, they sought a two-week mandatory working from home requirement like that imposed in Switzerland and the closure of all hairdressers and cosmetic services.
Ludwig hinted to the media that a temporary lockdown across the Easter period similar to that announced in Germany on Monday might be adopted.
While Germany appears to be backtracking on this announcement, it originally included the closure of all shops and supermarkets for the entire Easter period, other than grocery stores on Easter Saturday.
Austria’s Kurier newspaper reported that an ‘Easter rest’ would be the likely outcome, which would include the closure of shops and service providers (other than pharmacies and grocery stores) across the Easter period.
Easter school holidays could also be extended until April 11th.
Please stay tuned to the Local on Wednesday evening as we cover the official announcement.
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.