VIENNA (dpa-AFX) – Austria severely restricts public life due to the threat of overloading intensive care medicine in the Corona crisis. The gastronomy and almost the entire cultural and leisure offer are closed, nationwide leaving the apartment between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. is only allowed for certain purposes – but also for outdoor recreation. “From Tuesday, November 3rd, midnight until the end of November, there will be a second lockdown in Austria,” said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (VP) in Vienna on Saturday.
Unlike in the first so-called lockdown in spring, which provided for stricter exit restrictions around the clock, this time trade and most schools will remain open – “for the time being”, as Kurz emphasized. Schoolchildren from high school upwards and students study at home. Professional sports events are the only ones allowed to take place, but only without spectators. Contact sports in leisure time are prohibited. Visits to hospitals and nursing homes are limited.
On Sunday evening, Parliament’s main committee also approved the measures. The ordinance is valid until November 30th and the exit restriction has to be approved by parliament every ten days. The opposition demanded detailed reasons for the individual steps from the conservative-green government.
“Our goal is to gradually reopen in December and return to a reasonably normal life,” emphasized Kurz. “It is necessary to take this step to avoid overloading the intensive care medicine.” Just three weeks ago the government in Vienna had emphasized that a second lockdown was unthinkable. “I can’t even imagine it,” Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Grne) told ORF on October 11th. “Thank God we are still miles away from that.”
Since then, however, the number of infections has increased almost fivefold. The record of 5,627 new infections in one day was last reported in the country with almost nine million inhabitants on Friday, and slightly fewer on the weekend. In the past seven days there were an average of 321.3 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, in the federal states of Vorarlberg and Tyrol even significantly more than 400 each.
“Most of the infections take place with people who know each other, who like each other,” emphasized Kurz. He therefore called the nocturnal exit restriction “a de facto ban on visitors”. It is specifically permitted to leave your “own private living space” between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. to relax in the open air, for basic needs, for care or family support, for work and in the event of danger. The gastronomy is still allowed to deliver during this time, but no longer offer food for collection.
The ordinance also contains contact restrictions, according to which only people from two households are allowed to meet. This does not apply to one’s own house or apartment, as private living space in Austria is strictly protected by the constitution. “The police will not begin to look in private homes,” emphasized Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (VP).
On the other hand, during the period of nightly restrictions, the police should do more thorough checks on the street, said Nehammer. Legal experts, however, see possible problems as before with the Corona provisions in the spring, which the Constitutional Court subsequently cashed in on several points, for example due to inaccuracies in the regulation.
Compensation for companies affected by the closure should be paid out quickly. You will receive up to 80 percent of your sales from the comparison period, one month of the previous year, a maximum of 800,000 euros. The government estimates the total costs at around 1 billion euros.
According to the Austrian government, the first visible effects of the measures on the infection process are only expected in seven to 14 days. The real breakthrough will not take place until a vaccine is available, Kurz said. “I remain optimistic and believe that we can return to normality by next summer at the latest.” / Cpe / DP / mis