Austrian Lifestyle

Coronavirus in Austria - Update 20th April 2020 - Austria Relaxing Covid-19 Restrictions

The article topic Austrian Lifestyle

24 Apr 2020

The situation in Austria in regards to Covid-19 is gradually improving with the number of new cases following a decreasing trajectory. As of 20th April Austria has completed 179,243 tests out of which 14,749 were positive. 452 people died in connection with the disease. The number of deaths culminated on 8th April when 30 people died and the figure has since been decreasing. As more people have recovered, the number of people actively ill with the disease has been dropping. The highest amount of active cases of Covid-19 was registered on 3rd April when the figure stood at 9,334 - it has since dropped to about 3,800. Tyrol has registered most infected people whilst Styria and Vienna have counted most deaths in connection with coronavirus. 

This relatively encouraging development can be attributed to the swift implementation of extensive restrictions imposed by the Austrian government and the discipline of Austrian people. The first measures have been ordered on 16th March, about 20 days after the identification of first Covid-19 cases in Austria. The sweeping measures orchestrated practically a full lockdown with widespread closures of shops, cancellation of group events and gatherings. It imposed smart working from home for most of the population. In order to fight the pandemic and infection rates effectively, Austria used mobile testing units dispatched to people with early symptoms. Capacity of intensive care unit (ICU) beds continues to remain at good levels. Even at the height of the pandemic at the beginning of April, about a third of the ICU beds were still empty. Purpose-build field hospitals at concert centres and halls have not been used. 

Given the improving situation, Austria has been one of the first European countries to commence loosening coronavirus restrictions and reopen its economy. After almost a month of lockdown, Austria has taken first steps towards normality though strict rules remain in place. From 14th April thousands of shops nationwide reopened their doors including small shops with an area below 400m2, hardware, gardening, DIY stores, petrol stations, MOT centres, bicycle repair shops and public parks. Clearly, great caution is still needed, so Austrians have to abide by strict distancing measures and wearing masks is mandatory in shops and other high-risk locations. A limit of one customer per 40m2 area must be observed and shops opening hours are limited to 7.40am to 7pm. If situation continues to improve, further relaxation of measures is expected in May with reopening of hairdressers and cosmetic salons and potentially also restaurants and accommodation facilities by mid to late May. At the beginning of May, the Austrian government is going to decide how to proceed with Covid-19 measures in the summer months. 

In terms of travel to and within Austria, restrictions remain in place. Austrian embassies and consulates around the globe are currently not issuing any visas. People who want to cross the border from neighbouring countries must produce a medical certificate proving a negative COVID-19 test result. The certificate cannot be older than 4 days. Transiting the Austrian territory without stopover is permitted. Austrian citizens or people with primary, secondary or habitual residence in Austria do not have to produce such a certificate, but must observe a 14-day quarantine. Train services into and within Austria have been suspended or operate a modified and significantly reduced schedule. Flying into Austria is difficult as Innsbruck Airport and Salzburg Airport are closed for regular air traffic and Austrian Airlines have suspended regular routes. Entry by air is prohibited to third country nationals from states outside the Schengen area. Entries from Schengen countries have to carry a medical certificate proving a negative COVID-19 test result and commit to a 14-day quarantine. 

Further information about current situation in Austria

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