On the evening of Friday, 13 March 2020, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen addressed the nation with a speech. In it, he praised the government’s approach in the difficult situation and thanked the population for their cooperation.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
You all know about it and see it in the news every hour: the Corona crisis has reached our country. It is a serious challenge for us, for our families, for our society, for our economy, for our cohesion. And yes, it is unsettling.
Some of you are understandably wondering these days, “Can we even manage this?” Some of you are also understandably asking yourselves: “Is it really so bad? Does this concern me at all?”
A serious situation
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I stand here today to say to you: Yes, we are in a serious situation. The corona crisis affects us all. And it cuts deeply into our daily lives. And there is something we can all do. Specifically. By taking seriously what the Federal Government and the experts recommend. By taking care of ourselves. And of others.
Right now, we need to slow down the spread of the virus so that our health system can continue to function. Because if hospitals are overburdened because too many are falling ill at the same time, our most vulnerable are put at risk. Out of respect for our older generation, for those in poor health, for the sick and for their well-being, I urge you to reduce your social contacts to the bare minimum. This is the only way we can slow down the spread of the viruses. Your consideration today can save the lives of your loved ones tomorrow!
Wash your hands
Please make sure that you wash your hands. And try not to touch your face. For now, stop shaking your hands. (I haven’t done this for a while!) Wave at each other as a greeting or come up with something else. I do it like this. Asian, polite, friendly. (folds his hands and bows his head) Yes, it can even be a bit of fun.
Ladies and gentlemen… We all have practical concerns now. Who’s going to look after my child when there’s no more school? What can I do to make sure that the parents or grandma and grandpa are well? What will happen to my business, my workplace? How do I make ends meet? We humans have the ability and the gift to adapt quickly to sudden changes. This characteristic will help us now and hopefully lead us out of this crisis in the shortest possible way. But it will be a great challenge for all of us. For all of us.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to expressly thank all those who have already worked single-mindedly in recent weeks to overcome this situation. I would like to thank those in government, above all Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober and Interior Minister Karl Nehammer, who have acted calmly, prudently and appropriately. I thank the politicians of all parties, especially the opposition, who are now sticking together.
Thanks to everyone
Many thanks to all people in the medical and nursing professions. They are forced to do incredible things now. Thanks to all school and kindergarten teachers and educators who are doing invaluable work. Thanks to all the emergency services, especially the police officers, who are now barred from taking leave. Thanks to the business community and the workers. Thanks to the large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises, to all employees and their families. Thank you all for supporting the measures that are difficult for you.
Thank you to all volunteers in civil society. Thanks also to all children and young people for their patience and help. Thank you to the cultural workers for their understanding that performances must be canceled. And thanks also to all the journalists. They ensure that we are all kept informed in a factual and serious manner.
Thanks to all those who are now in home quarantine, to all those who are now reducing their family contacts. And thanks to the people in Paznaun Valley and St. Anton. Thank you for your patience and understanding. You’re doing the right thing. Thank you to you, ladies and gentlemen who live in Austria, thank you for your help.
Ladies and gentlemen. We have to get through this situation together now. And the more we help together now, the better we work together now, the faster we will get through this situation together. I am confident that we will also manage this, just as we have already achieved a lot together in our country. So, please take care of yourself. And together we look after our Austria. Thank you.”