After a further increase in new infections to record levels and a warning from the Corona Commission, the Austrian government is planning a far more drastic approach than before. It wants to significantly tighten the existing corona rules and apparently plans a complete lockdown. For three weeks thereafter, shops and schools would be closed and exit restrictions would be imposed around the clock.
According to several media reports on the draft government decree, the exit restrictions, which have so far been in force at night, are to be extended to cover the entire day with few exceptions. According to the draft, all shops not essential for daily needs would be closed. Schools still open for younger age groups would also be closed and switched to distance learning, with kindergartens probably closing for the most part. Now a stricter ban on contact is also to be added, so that only the narrowest circles are allowed to meet, and from Tuesday to December 6, the current partial lockdown is to be changed to a complete one. Since November 3, a so-called partial lockdown has been in effect in Austria. Gastronomy, tourism, culture and leisure facilities are closed for the most part. Retail, service providers and schools, with the exception of the upper school, remained open for the time being – “for the time being”, as Kurz emphasised at the time. In addition, there are currently exit restrictions from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., which only allow students to leave their “own private living space” for basic needs and outdoor recreation.
Infection numbers continue to rise unabatedThe federal government led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) and Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) intends to announce the new procedure this Saturday afternoon. They are following the strict lockdown in spring, when for the first time in Austria the pandemic brought public life to a complete standstill, including the rules of exit, and the number of infections had continued to rise almost unchecked since the introduction of the previous rules. The government’s Corona Commission recommends further measures to prevent a collapse of the health system.
The average of new infections in the last seven days was 554.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants throughout Austria on Friday, but regionally up to 850. 3922 Covid-19 patients were in hospital on Friday, 567 of them in intensive care beds – an increasingly critical value for the Austrian health system.
In the currently most severely affected states of Vorarlberg and Upper Austria, intensive care units are already reaching their limits. The hospitals in Vorarlberg said on Friday that they would only concentrate on emergency medicine and the care of Covid-19 patients, and that triage – selection of patients – could not be ruled out in the coming days. Of 63 intensive care beds, 46 were occupied, 35 of them with Covid-19 patients. Also clinics in other parts of Austria are now postponing not necessarily necessary or urgent operations.
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