Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in August

The coronavirus has arrived in Austria. Here’s all you need to know about current measures, including where to get help, information and tips – updated regularly.

After the Austrian government took increasingly drastic measures in March to contain the coronavirus, the country successfully flattened the curve in April, and gradually reopened shops, schools and restaurants again in May.

Life in Vienna got back to something like normality with summer arriving in June, while newly rising numbers in July have prompted regional lockdowns, quarantine, travel warnings and targeted measures.

Now, with cases higher but relatively stable in Austria – and being tested, tracked and traced – society is trying to find a new balance between containing the virus and living daily life.

For a wrap-up of current measures and developments, check out our current Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna article, with daily updates.

Here’s a timeline of what happened in Austria in August 2020.

August 31, 2020:

  • The Austrian ski school union has released new corona guidelines for the upcoming winter season.
    • Ski and snowboard instructors must be tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis. The union has requested for testing costs to be paid for by the Ministry of Agriculture, Regions, and Tourism.
    • Groups are capped at ten individuals, including the instructor.
    • All students must register their contact information.
    • In case an individual shows corona symptoms, he or she must be separated from the group.
    • Masks are required whenever the minimum distance cannot be kept.
  • The number of active coronavirus cases in Austria has risen to 3,363 – an increase of +123 since yesterday.
    • The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 fell to 140 (-4), of which 30 (+/-0) are being treated in intensive care units.
    • The effective reproductive number of the virus (R) has stood at 1.14 in recent days – that means every infected person infects on average 1.14 others.
  • In Vienna, there have been -4% fewer positively tested cases in the last week (886) compared to the week before (923). At the same time, weekly tests were increased by 68%, from 2,613 to 4,391.

August 29, 2020:

  • Hungary will close its borders to foreigners on September 1. Hungarian nationals will have to enter a 14-days quarantine, there will be special regulations for foreign residents and commuters in the border area.
  • A total of 394 new infections have been recorded in Austria in the last 24 hours, the highest recorded number since April 10, when the country was still in full lockdown.
    • The number of active coronavirus infections rose 3,368, an increase of +194 since yesterday.
    • Testing has also been ramped up significantly, with between 12.000 and 14,000 tests performed on Thursday, Friday and Sunday (compared to about 7,000 tests per day throughout most of the summer).
    • The number of patients with COVID-19 under treatment in Austrian hospitals slightly decreased to 144 (-5 since yesterday), 30 (+3) of which are in intensive care.
    • Since the beginning of the pandemic, 726 people died from or with COVID-19 in Austria.

August 28, 2020:

  • In a press conference, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz expressed optimism, projecting that the corona crisis will be over by next summer.
    • Kurz announced that the government will present new measures to prevent another lockdown next week.
    • In the meantime, the government is working to initiate new projects to bolster the economy.
    • Kurz said that the crisis has proven the importance of regional products. Therefore, the gastronomy will be pressured to purchase more products that are produced in Austria.
  • Currently, there are 3,246 active cases of the coronavirus in Austria. That’s a decrease of -48 since yesterday, thanks to recoveries (+277) outpacing newly detected infections (+114).
    • 146 patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 27 of which are getting intensive care.
    • More than half of all currently active cases in Austria are localized in Vienna (currently 1,654). However, as city officials don’t tire to point out, Vienna has also been testing more ambitiously than other federal states for months now and purports to catch many more asymptomatic cases early on thanks to that.
  • While coronavirus cases across Europe have been rising in recent weeks, the overall situation still looks quite different than in early spring.
    • Due to array of factors, current daily infection numbers can not easily be compared to those in spring.
      • For a start, European countries tested way less in March, April and May, resulting in an enormous number of under-reported or not-reported cases.
      • Back then, vulnerable groups and places (e.g. hospitals, homes for the elderly, etc.) did not have adequate protection either.
      • Mask-wearing was not widespread at all until March, leading to more infections and – due to higher viral loads per infection – often more serious progression of the disease.
      • More people now tested positive for the virus are younger and healthier, their viral load tends to be lower and their infection is often detected earlier.
      • Furthermore, medicine has got better at treating patients with COVID-19 at different stages of the disease, leading to much lower rates of serious and fatal cases – partly this is a statistical effect (due to under-testing in spring), but partly this is also a reflection of significantly improved care and precautions.
      • As a result, hospitalization rates for COVID-19 in Austria have remained relatively low and stable during the last months, with a slight uptick in recent weeks, and deaths across Europe due to the virus are also still stable on a low level (see graphic below).
  • In September, the family package of the government will pay out €360 for every child living in Austria.
    • Moreover, the first income tax bracket will be lowered from 25% to 20% retroactively for this entire year, a measure that is meant to put more money into the pockets of employees.
    • The whole package will cost €2.7 billion and is a part of a whole array of stimulus measures aimed to help the economy recover from its corona-induced break.
    • Economic forecasts have also been adjusted recently.
      • For Austria, the WIFO now expects a slump of -6.8% – harsh, but better than the forecasts of June (-7%) and April (-7.5%).
      • For the European Union as a whole, the OECD is now expecting a drop of -9.1%.
      • In the meantime, Austrian industry has already recovered to the levels seen in 2015, faster than industry in the eurozone and in neighboring Germany.
  • The Austrian tourism industry reported -44.6% fewer overnight stays in the months May to July 2020, compared to last year.
    • The main reason for the massive decrease were the coronavirus measures that forced hotels to close until the end of May and also made travel thereafter more complicated.
    • Nevertheless, the rebound after the reopening was stronger than expected. In July 2020, there were “only” -17.2% less overnight stays than last year, with domestic tourism up (+15.2%) and tourist stays from abroad down (-28.7%).
    • There were also massive regional differences, both within Europe and within Austria.
      • Countries like France (-55.7%) and Italy (-66.4%) were hit particularly hard, others like Belgium (-30-3%) and the Netherlands (-21.7%) comparably less so.
      • In Austria, overnight stays in July cratered in Vienna (-73.3%) and fell markedly in Lower Austria (-22%), Upper Austria (-16.7%), Salzburg (-21.5%), Tyrol (-14.3%) and Vorarlberg (-10.8%). In contrast, overnight stays in four federal states even saw slight increases, namely in Burgenland (+4.1 percent), Styria (+2.0 percent) and Carinthia (+0.1 percent).

August 27, 2020:

  • A new government plan to mandate restaurants and bars to collect the names, addresses and contact information of all their guests has drawn the ire of the gastronomy sector.
    • The plan is part of an amended version of the coronavirus law that is currently being debated in the Austrian parliament.
    • Guest lists are supposed to make contact tracing easier and faster – when one guest tests positive, contacts can be quickly tracked, traced and isolated.
    • However, restaurant and bar owners criticize that the law is impractical as guests would have no legal obligation to share their personal information and the owners and waiters would have no legal authority to enforce the new regulations.
    • Lists of visitors and attendants may also become obligatory for hospitals (which mostly keep them already) and public events.
    • Finally, the federal coronavirus test program for employees in the tourist sector is planned to be expanded to restaurants, bars and campsites in the fall.
  • Currently, there are 3,311 active cases of coronavirus in Austria, +156 more than yesterday. For the first time in several months, the number of hospitalizations has also noticeably increased. 145 patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 24 of which are in intensive care units.
  • More than 6,000 people in Vienna are in home quarantine at the moment because they’ve been infected with Sars-CoV-2 or they had contact to someone who was. The city now presented how they want to deal with this in the upcoming municipal elections.
    • On October 11, the Viennese will elect a new city council.
    • Since it is basically certain that a significant number of eligible voters will have to be in quarantine on that day, the city has announced that a “flying electoral commission” (i.e. a polling station that comes to people’s homes) will visit all those who cannot go to vote on that day.
    • However, eligible voters also need a postal polling card, which has to be requested at the latest on Friday, October 9, by noon. If necessary, a duly authorized person can pick up the postal polling card, so that the quarantine does not have to be breached by anyone.
    • The “flying coronavirus electoral commission” will wear protective hazmat suits to prevent any infections.

August 26, 2020:

  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, the police has issued fines worth almost €5.9 million in connection with violations of COVID-19 restrictions across the state.
    • In total, the police has filed 27,815 complaints against civilians, the majority of which were due to violating rules during the lockdown.
  • Infections have been traced to a popular bar on the Gürtel after two waiters tested positive for the coronavirus.
    • Loco Bar notified guests via its Facebook page and is calling all individuals who visited the bar between August 17 and 24 to get tested.
  • There is some confusion over tests that were conducted at the testing center near the Ernst-Happel-Stadion. The names on the labels of the test samples must have rubbed off when officials disinfected the test tubes.
  • 40 soldiers were sent to assist at a Spar in Tyrol after a corona-cluster was detected at the facility.
    • 27 employees are infected and 170 others must now self-isolate.
    • Spar is paying the soldiers, who are planning to stay until September 8.
  • The number of active corona infections in Vienna have reached an all-time high – 1,607 people are actively sick with COVID-19 in the city.
    • Currently, there are 3,155 active corona cases in Austria, bringing the overall case count to 26,084.
    • 141 people are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 23 of which are in intensive care units.

August 25, 2020:

  • Exactly half a year ago, on February 25, the first person in Austria was tested positive for the coronavirus in Innsbruck, Tyrol.
  • Since yesterday, 256 people were newly tested positive for the coronavirus in Austria. The. number of active cases has fallen by 20, however, to a current total of 3,085 cases. 137 patients with COVID-19 are hospitalized in Austria, 23 of which are being treated in intensive care units.
  • Austria has laboratory capacities for 15,000 coronavirus tests per day, but these are not yet exhausted, said Hans Georg Mustafa, President of the Austrian Society for Laboratory Medicine and Clinical Chemistry.
  • Socio-economic factors like income or education had no impact on the likelihood of getting infected with the coronavirus in Austria, a new study shows.
    • That means poor and better well-off people in Austria have the same risk of catching the virus, a stark contrast to the experience of countries like the US and the UK, where certain subsets of the population faced a much higher risk of infection.
    • The only group that had a visibly higher risk in Austria was the unemployed. However, as the study points out, there are obvious reasons for that – as most infections happen at home and within families, the unemployed who spend more time there face a higher risk.
  • The results of the COVID-19 drive through testing site in Vienna for travelers coming back from Croatia are in: Out of 4,676 conducted tests, 71 tested positive for the coronavirus, allowing authorities to track and trace contacts and interrupt infection chains early.

August 24, 2020:

  • Two men who trained at a gym in Lower Austria have tested positive for the coronavirus. The city has notified 717 members via e-mail and is urging them to get tested.
    • Last week, the two men frequented the gym M-Fitness, located in Wiener Neustadt, from Monday to Thursday. A total of 717 other members were present during this time.
    • The tests will be offered in the Arena Nova on Tuesday and Wednesday. The results will be available within 48 hours.
    • In the meantime, Wiener Neustadt has erected an emergency call center in the Rathaus.
  • In a press briefing, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said that there is a “further increasing trend showing that an increasing number of positive cases come from the immediate circle, are younger patients, and people without symptoms.”
    • Anschober indicated that containing the virus will be a “challenge” for health officials.
  • Starting September 1, Austrian Airlines is limiting the exceptions to the mask requirement.
    • Previously, passengers with a medical letter were exempt from wearing a mask when flying. Now, the medical letter must be written on an AUA-Formblatt, and passengers must provide a negative corona test result.
    • Since May, passengers have been required to wear masks upon entering the respective terminal until they arrive at their destination.
  • The number of newly reported cases has slightly decreased from last week. 242 new infections were registered in Austria within the last 24 hours.
    • This brings the number of active cases to 3,105, 142 more than yesterday.
    • Currently, 135 patients are being treated in Austrian hospital, 23 of which are in intensive care.

August 23, 2020:

  • The number of active coronavirus cases in Austria has risen to 2,963, an increase of 39 new cases since yesterday. While markedly lower than in recent days, numbers on weekends have always to be treated with caution as many laboratories only report during the week.
    • The number of people with COVID-19 who are being treated in Austrian hospitals remains stable at 116, of which 23 are getting intensive care.

August 22, 2020:

  • A new decree mandating stricter controls on the southern Austrian border in Carinthia has led to up to 12 hours of traffic jam and stalled traffic in front of border crossings.
    • Travelers back to Austria from Croatia have to present a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result or self-quarantine for 10 days.
    • Travelers from Croatia or other countries of the Western Balkans who just wanted to transit through Austria also had to be stopped and needed to fill in a document confirming that they do not plan to stay in the country.
    • Many drivers as well as the government of the federal state of Carinthia criticized that the new decree was only published on Friday, with little to no time for authorities or travelers to prepare for the new situation.

August 21, 2020:

  • Today Health Councilor Peter Hacker (SPÖ) announced that Vienna will offer free gurgle tests to all permanent residents returning to the city starting tomorrow.
    • Last week, Vienna opened up free testing sites for travelers returning from Croatia and the Spanish islands. This offer will end tomorrow.
    • Now, Hacker extended the initiative to all Viennese residents returning to the city, even if they are coming from non-risk areas or regions within Austria.
      • This offer is only valid for individuals who are permanent residents in Vienna.
      • If travelers returning from elsewhere in Austria want to get tested for free, they must prove that they spent four or more days outside the city.
    • Hacker is also pressuring the federal government to expand the free testing program to the entire nation.
  • Both employers and Austrian labor unions oppose a general mask requirement at the work place.
  • To support health officials in conducting health checks at the borders, the government will send 60 additional soldiers to the Styrian-Slovenian border and 60 more to the border crossings located in Carinthia.
  • The United Kingdom has added Austria to its list of destinations from which travelers have to self-quarantine for 14 days when entering the UK.
    • The number of new coronavirus cases detected in the last 14 days compared to the two weeks before increased by 46% in the United Kingdom and by 69% in Austria.
    • While Austria has successfully flattened the curve early on, thus containing the virus and keeping the number of deaths from COVID-19 relatively low (729 at present), the UK took longer – leading to one of the most severe outbreaks in Europe (with 41,397 fatalities at present) – and then shut down harder.
    • As a consequence, the easing measures came earlier and were more sweeping in Austria – making higher numbers of reinfections down the road relatively more likely – while large swathes of UK public life are still on standby.
  • The situation in Austria is worsening at a worrying rate. 331 new infections were reported in the past 24 hours, 172 of which are in Vienna.
    • This brings the number of active cases to 2,772.
    • 112 people infected with the virus are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals. 22 individuals are in intensive care.
    • In total, 730 people have died with or from COVID-19 within Austria.

August 20, 2020:

  • The number of newly detected coronavirus infections in Austria continues to be on the rise. Since yesterday, 347 people were newly tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
    • Half of the new cases were found in Vienna, travelers who were infected abroad account for a fifth of the total.
    • Currently, there are a total of 2,609 active cases in Austria, an increase of 212 since yesterday.
    • 116 people with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 21 of which are in intensive care.
    • Most new infections can still be assigned to regional clusters or specific settings, e.g. holidays abroad or close quarters (see first picture below for a district view of new infections in Austria on August 19, compared to 100,000 inhabitants).
    • The number of new cases also shows up in the 7-day-average of new infections per 100,000 people when looking at federal state, with a steep upward trend for Vienna in recent days (see second picture below).
  • Up to 300,000 people may have already been infected with the coronavirus in Austria, says Franz Allerberger, infectiologist and Head of the Human Medicine Unit of the Food Security Agency (AGES).
    • This number is considerably higher than previous estimates that put the total number of people who have had the virus at around 120,000.
    • Since the beginning of the pandemic, 25,000 have been tested positive for the coronavirus in Austria – for Allerberger “just the tip of the iceberg.”
    • 729 people have died from or with COVID-19 in Austria until today. With Allerberger’s higher estimate of 300,000 total cases so far, the case mortality rate would stand at 0.25 – similiar to the flu.
    • However, Allerberger emphasized that long-term effects and complications from COVID-19 for lungs, heart, kidney and other organs can often be severe – often for week, months or even years. Thus measures to contain the virus were and are justified, said Allerberger.

August 19, 2020:

  • Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner announced that she will send 800 additional soldiers to Austrian borders to support health officials in conducting health check-ups.
    • Additionally, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is ordering 500 police officers to the borders.
    • Tyrolean Governor Günther Platter demands testing centers to be set up directly at borders and is pressing for an additional 120 soldiers for the southern borders.
    • This is part of the federal government’s efforts to amp up health controls on the borders after the virus was detected in travelers returning from Croatia and the Western Balkans.
  • 5 infections were reported at the new “drive-through” testing site near the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, established specifically for individuals returning from Croatia.
  • Winter destinations are preparing for a corona-free ski season.
    • Platter is pressuring the federal government to release guidelines for apres-ski.
    • Ski lift operators in Carinthia have formed a group, which is responsible for developing strategies to ensure a safe ski season.
      • Social distancing measures will most likely be in effect inside gondolas. Alternatively, individuals will be required to wear masks.
      • In Carinthia, Apres-ski will be banned inside huts and will only take place outside.
  • A public survey found that the majority of Austrians are pro-vaccination.
    • Almost three-quarters of the respondents support mandatory vaccination.
  • With 255 new infections registered within Austria since yesterday, the number of new infections remains at a high.
    • Currently, there are 2,397 active cases, 167 more since yesterday.
    • Overall, 24,133 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.
    • 120 patients are being treated in Austrian hospitals, 20 of which who are in intensive care units.
    • So far, 729 people have died from or with COVID-19.

August 18, 2020:

  • The Austrian government now issued a travel warning also for the Spanish islands such as the Baleares, including the popular holiday hotspots Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.
    • The travel warning will enter into force on Monday, August 24.
    • Travelers returning to Austria before that date can get a coronavirus test for free.
    • Once a travel warning is officially in force for a country or region, travelers from there have to enter home quarantine when coming back to Austria unless they can present a negative PCR coronavirus test not older than 72 hours upon arrival, or organize a test within 48 hours from their home quarantine.
    • Currently, 20,000 people in Austria are home quarantined because they are infected with the virus or have had contact with someone who was tested positive.
    • Austria issued travel warnings for a total of 17 European countries so far and for the majority of countries overseas.
  • Meanwhile, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) underlined how crucial behavior and hygiene are for whether somebody gets infected or not – no matter if at home or abroad.
    • A particular worry are beach parties or other nightlife events, where the virus can spread effectively and fast.
    • In a tweet, Anschober said about recent cases: “Just a few facts: in the last 8 days 262 travel returnees from Croatia have tested positive. Average age 23.5 years! More than two thirds men. Pull yourself together and take responsibility!!”
  • Currently, there are 2,230 people who have an active infection of the coronavirus in Austria.
    • This is an increase of 190 (+9.3%) since yesterday, one of the highest daily increases in the last four month.
    • 116 patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 19 of which are getting intensive care – both numbers are still fairly stable.
    • The number of daily tests has jumped to 13,821 today, with testing being ramped up for returning travelers and various smaller clusters within the country.
  • New studies underline that by far the highest risk to get infected with SARS-CoV-2 is in closed rooms.
    • The president of the International Institute of Aerosoles in Medicine, Gerhard Scheuch, cited a Chinese study that showed only one of 318 coronavirus clusters were due to an infection outside in fresh air. All other infections happened indoors.
    • The Chinese study also pointed out that up to 80% of infections happen at home between family members or people who share the same apartment.
  • Another study from the University of Tübingen in Germany indicates that up to 81% of people may already have antibodies from the exposure to other coronaviruses in the past.
    • To what degree these antibodies can protect the body against COVID-19 is an open question that is still being investigated, but researchers assume they play a big role in making the progression of the diseases so different in different cases.

August 17, 2020:

  • At a press conference today, Education Minister Heinz Faßmann presented the plan for reopening schools. The minister wants schools and childcare facilities to resume regular instruction in the fall, but has outlined measures to reduce the spread of the virus.
    • Schools will be coordinated with the Health Ministry’s “Corona Ampel” (traffic light) that is planned to go live this fall.
      • Green means schools can operate regularly.
      • Yellow indicates that the rate of new infection is increasing, calling for the reintroduction of masks outside classrooms.
      • Orange signals a dramatic spread of the virus, upon which older students will switch to “hybrid learning” (a blend between in-person classes and “distance learning”).
      • Red signifies that school will go fully online, meaning students will transition to “distance learning.”
    • Sick children should stay home.
    • As long as the weather permits, as many classes as possible should be held outside.
    • Windows in classrooms will be opened for at least five minutes every 20 minutes, even once temperatures grow colder during fall and winter.
    • Masks must be worn upon entering and exiting school buildings, but are not required inside classrooms.
    • Classes should avoid mingling with individuals from other classrooms to minimize the risk of infection.
    • To prepare for “distance learning,” the ministry is working on developing an individual platform with online study features, including digital textbooks.
    • Teachers will be provided with FFP2 masks and receive a flu shot.
    • Teachers that belong to the high-risk group can opt out of in-person instruction with a doctor’s note.
    • The ministry is creating a corona-school-hotline, which will answer questions that parents, students, and teachers have regarding the instruction of schools.
    • For now, school events, language trips, and ski courses have neither been cancelled nor banned. However, the ministry still needs to study the measures under which these can take place and develop a uniform cancellation policy.
  • Faßmann also ordered regular gargle tests at schools.
    • A select group of 15,000 students and 1,200 faculty members at over 250 schools will be tested every three weeks to detect asymptomatic cases.
  • According to the ASFINAG, traffic jams for individuals returning from Croatia lasted for over three hours at the border crossing Spielfeld in Styria yesterday.
  • 172 new cases were registered in Austria within the last 24 hours.
    • This brings the total count of active cases to 2,040, an increase of 79 from yesterday.
    • The number of hospitalized cases is currently at 114, 30 more than yesterday. 23 patients are currently being treated in intensive care.
    • Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 729 people in Austria died from or with COVID-19.

August 16, 2020:

  • The number of active coronavirus infections in Austria rose to 1,961 cases, an increase of 137 (+8%) since the day before. At the same time, the number of hospitalized patients decreased to 84, of which 19 are in intensive care.
    • Recent increases were the largest since the beginning of April.
    • However, the Health Ministry currently doesn’t see any new big clusters emerging.
    • Instead, the currently higher numbers are due to “several smaller clusters within families, a quarter are asymptomatic and a high share are returning travelers,” according to ministry officials.
  • On Monday, August 17, an official travel warning for Croatia enters into force. Now, the government has announced several additional measures.
    • Anyone returning from Croatia on Monday or later has to present a negative COVID-19 test result or enter a 10-days quarantine.
    • If a test is performed within 48 hours of entering Austria and shows a negative result, the quarantine can also be ended earlier.
    • Upon entering Austria, travelers from Croatia can also call the coronavirus hotline 1450 and get a free coronavirus test in the week from August 17-21.
    • Normally, tests after entering from abroad have to be performed at one’s own charge.
    • Government and local authorities expect traffic jams at Austrian borders and will also step up border controls.
    • Minister of Health Rudolf Anschober (Greens) asked all returning travelers to keep following the “ground rules to contain the coronavirus” – hygiene measures, minimal distance, mouth-nose protection (masks) – when on holidays and when returning to Austria.
    • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) warned that “the virus is coming to Austria with the car” and sees the situation in Austria, albeit in general “stable,” in recent days as “worrying.”
  • The City of Vienna has established a “drive-through” coronavirus testing site near the Ernst-Happel Stadion particularly for travelers coming back from Croatia. There is also a “walk-through” testing station nearby. As long as both are open, all the coronavirus tests there are free.
    • Both testing sites will stay open until midnight today and will reopen tomorrow at 06:00 in the morning.

August 15, 2020:

  • More than 300 new infections with the coronavirus were registered in Austria in the last 24 hours – that is the highest number since the mid of April, over four months ago.
    • The soaring infections take the total count of active cases to 1,824, an increase of 172 from yesterday.
    • 104 patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 21 of which are in intensive care.
    • Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 717 people in Austria died from or with COVID-19.

August 14, 2020:

  • Austria issued a travel warning for Croatia due to rising coronavirus numbers in the Adriatic country and urged all travelers to return to Austria as soon as possible.
    • The travel warning will enter into force on Monday, August 17, at midnight.
    • Croatia joins a list of 31 other countries that Austria currently has active travel warnings for, ranging from Bulgaria, Romania, Portugal and Sweden in Europe to the US, Russia, Brazil or South Africa overseas.
    • An official travel warning gives travelers the right to cancel their booked trips to and holidays in the country without any cancellation charges.
  • The number of new coronavirus infections detected in Austria has hit a multi-week high.
    • Since yesterday, 245 new cases have been registered, taking the number of currently active cases in Austria to 1,652 (an increase of +129 cases).
    • 110 patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 19 of which are getting intensive care.
    • The number of coronavirus tests carried out in Austria since the beginning of the pandemic has surpassed 1 million these days. The number of daily tests has increased to about 10,000 in recent days, from about 7,000 per day throughout the summer.

August 13, 2020:

  • A meta-analysis at the McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, has shown that wearing masks reduces the risk of an infection with the novel coronavirus by up to 80%.The scientific chief researcher of the meta-analysis, the German doctor and researcher Holger Schünemann, has spoke the German daily Berliner Zeitung, underlining what an essential role masks can play in containing the virus.
    • The meta-analysis analyzed 29 existing studies on the effectiveness on masks to reduce the infection risk of different coronaviruses.
    • Schünemann underlined that such a meta-analysis cannot give precise information on the magnitude of protection – for this, randomized medical trials would be needed – but it does allow to confidently say that masks have a significant impact in reducing infection risks.
    • Furthermore, Schünemann criticized the that the WHO, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and many other national health authorities have for too long ignored or even advised against wearing masks in the fight against the virus, ignoring the experiences of East Asian countries with combatting the SARS virus.
    • Nevertheless, he also emphasized that mask wearing can only be one measure of many – it is only effective when combined with heightened awareness for hygiene, such as washing hands regularly, social distancing, the “elbow bump” and other preventive measures.
    • The meta-analysis was published in the medical journal The Lancet under the name: “Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”
  • Currently, 50% of all detected new infections can be traced to travelers coming back from Croatia or the Western Balkans. Given these numbers, the governor of the federal state Tyrol, Günther Platter (ÖVP), has publicly mused that a renewed travel warning for Croatia may be on the cards.
  • US scientists have proven that the coronavirus can also be transmitted via aerosols. These particles can float in the air for a relatively long time and relatively far, making particularly indoor rooms with bad ventilation or spaces where many people sing, speak or shout next to each other prone to transmission chains.

August 12, 2020:

  • In a press briefing, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) emphasized that only thoroughly tested vaccines will be approved in Austria. He ruled out using the coronavirus vaccine that was introduced in Russia yesterday, citing not nearly sufficient testing.
    • Anschober is optimistic that a more thoroughly tested vaccine will be made available by next year.
  • An employee at Casino Zell am See has tested positive for the coronavirus.
    • Around 300 guests have been alerted and must now self-monitor their symptoms.
  • The Austrian Trade Union Federation reported that high-risk groups are increasingly being pressured by their employers to go back to work.
    • Some businesses are even denying the chronically ill to stay home from work.
  • A recent study conducted in Viennese schools showed that only a small number of students possess antibodies for the virus. Among 2,000 tested students, only 26 students had antibodies.
  • Due to Corona, Austrians are turning to online banking. Cash payments have significantly reduced during the crisis.
  • Today, Austria marked the highest number in new infections in several weeks. The number of new cases registered within the past 24 hours is just under 200.
    • 194 new infections were reported since yesterday.
    • An additional 91 new cases were registered in Vienna, which is higher than the usual average of new infections.

August 11, 2020:

  • At a press conference today, Employment Minister Christine Aschbacher and Women Minister Susanne Raab (both ÖVP) presented measures to support women in the coronavirus crisis.
    • Both ministers acknowledged that homeschooling, home office and the lockdown have affected the lives of many women particularly strongly.
    • Therefore, in the scenario of newly emerging coronavirus clusters in the future, school closures should be implemented on a regional basis and be as short as possible.
    • Further measures that were already taken is a lower initial tax rate of 20% instead of 25% (particularly benefitting part-time workers, many of them women), an extra payment of €360 for every child and tax reductions for families.
    • As observer have noted, 85% of the increase in unemployment due to the coronavirus affected women. Since March, 54,700 women and 9,400 men lost their jobs in Austria.
  • In the federal state of Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), four seasonal harvest workers were tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The entire farm close to St. Pölten was put under quarantine, tests are being carried out.
  • The number of new infections registered in Austria in the last 24 hours is once again in the three-digits.
    • Since yesterday, 153 people were newly tested positive for the coronavirus. Currently there are a total of 1,399 active coronavirus cases in Austria.
    • 119 patients with COVID-19 are being treated in Austrian hospitals, 25 of which are in intensive care.

August 10, 2020:

  • After the Austrian government issued a travel warning for the the Spanish mainland, the Ministry of Health now also considers it a high risk destination.
    • This warning does not apply to the Spanish islands, i.e. Balearic islands and the Canaries.
    • As of today, August 10, travelers coming from the Spanish mainland must show a negative COVID-19 test result, otherwise they must self-quarantine for ten days.
  • For the first time since the outbreak of the corona-cluster among tourism interns in St. Wolfgang, the registrations for the corona tests in the region’s tourism industry are declining.
    • This week only 6,000 people have registered for a corona test, which is 300 less than last week.

August 7, 2020:

  • Austria’s charity and aid organizations together with Austria’s public broadcaster ORF have launched a nationwide coronavirus help initiative called “Österreich hilft Österreich” (“Austria helps Austria”).
  • The coronavirus situation in Austria is relatively stable at the moment. The number of active coronavirus cases has increased by 46 since yesterday and currently stands at 1,427 cases. 118 patients with COVID-19 are being treated at Austrian hospitals, 25 of which are getting intensive care. So far, 720 people in Austria died from or with the illness.

August 6, 2020:

  • The Austrian government issued a travel warning for the Spanish mainland, which will enter into force on Monday, August 10.
    • The warning is currently not valid for the Spanish islands, i.e. the Balearic islands and the Canaries.
    • That means that travelers coming back from the Spanish mainland to Austria will have to show a negative COVID-19 test result, otherwise they need to enter a 10-day quarantine.
    • Austria issued coronavirus travel warnings for 32 countries, for example the United States, Russia, Turkey and the Western Balkans. This also affects four EU countries, with valid Austrian travel warnings for Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain.

August 5, 2020:

August 4, 2020:

  • The federal states of Lower Austria and Upper Austria shortened the quarantine period for COVID-19 suspected cases to 10 days from previously 14 days.
    • The change follows a recommendation from the Ministry of Health.
    • The quarantine can only be ended if there are still no symptoms after 10 days; for people who tested positive for the coronavirus in the past or who show symptoms, a negative test result is obligatory.

August 3, 2020:

  • The price of coronavirus PCR tests offered at Vienna Airport will be reduced to €120 from previously €190.
    • The Vienna Airport Health Center is also prolonging its opening times, which will now be from 07:00 to 20:00 every day, including weekends.
    • Pre-registration is no longer necessary, the Center plans with rising demand in the next weeks due to more air travel and stricter entrance regulations.
    • Results will be available within 3-6 hours (on weekends, within one day) and can serve as official test result to avoid a 14-day quarantine which is obligatory after entering from a country that is designated as coronavirus risk area.
  • Workers in big supermarket chains will get an extra bonus of €150-200 per full-time employee for their efforts during the height of the coronavirus crisis in March. The unions are content with this agreement, but continue to demand a “corona €1,000 bonus” from the state as well.

August 2, 2020:

  • The coronavirus situation in Austria remains stable at the moment. The number of people newly tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 was in the double digits for the second day in a row, after more than a month with news cases in the triple digits. The current situation is as follows:
    • Active cases stand at 1,602.
    • A total of 93 patients are treated for COVID-19 in Austrian hospitals.
    • And 20 of the hospitalized patients are getting intensive care.
    • Austria has also surpassed the number of 900,000 coronavirus tests in total in recent days.
  • Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP), Minister for Constitutional Matters, suggested to amend current Covid-19 legislation in order to prolong the legal force of some measures into the next year.
  • Vice-chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) spoke in favor of paying back some of the fines handed out by the police during the coronavirus lockdown and now partially judged as unconstitutional by Austria’s Constitutional Court. His colleague Karoline Edstadler (ÖVP) is more skeptical.
  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) announced that more than 900,000 coronavirus tests have been performed in Austria so far. The minister called the current situation in the country “stable” and underlined the crucial work of local health authorities that are tasked with contact tracing and containing clusters as they emerge.
  • More than 20,000 refugees and asylum applicants in Austria have taken part in online German language classes during the lockdown in March and April. Integration Minister Susanne Raab (ÖVP) sees “a very positive record” and wants to offer significantly more online language classes in the future.

For length, clarity and loading times, we decided to split off the timeline of what happened in recent months into several separate articles:

The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in March
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in April
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in May
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in June
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in July

Numbers

As of today, August 31, 2020, the situation in Austria according to the Ministry of Health is as follows:

People tested: 1,180,711
– of which in Vienna: 299,363
Daily tests: 8,619

Confirmed cases: 27,294 (+194 cases (+0.8%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 7,926
Active cases: 3,386 (+129 cases (+4.1%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 1,788 (+97 cases (+6%) since yesterday)

Total hospitalized: 154 (+10 cases (+10%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 79
In intensive care: 31 (+1 case (+3.3%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 13

Recovered: 23,226 (+156 cases (+0.7%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 5,997
Deceased: 733 (+/- 0 cases (+0%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 210

The Ministry of Health has also developed a COVID-19 dashboard with details on the coronavirus outbreak in Austria, listing for example affected regions, age groups, gender and status of the cases.

The privately organized coronatracker also provides up-to-date information on the virus in Austria (in German).

Austrian tech & startup media house Trending Topics has also set up a comprehensive tracking board for the coronavirus in Austria (in German).

Resources

The City of Vienna has compiled comprehensive information on questions and answers regarding coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease in English.

The Austrian Ministry of Health has put together FAQs on the coronavirus and also provides material to download on how to protect yourself and others from the disease, also in English.

Furthermore, the ministry will constantly update its German language website with information on the number of people tested and cases of COVID-19 in Austria.

Hotlines

Health advice by telephone: 1450

If you show symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties) or fear that you are ill, stay at home and dial health number 1450 for further procedures (diagnostic clarification).

Coronavirus hotline AGES: +43 0800 555 621

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) answers questions about the coronavirus (general information on transmission, symptoms, prevention) 24 hours a day at +43 0800 555 621.

VKI hotline for travel law questions: +43 0800 201 211

For legal questions concerning trips that have already been booked (e.g. whether a trip can be cancelled free of charge), the experts of the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) provide advice free of charge from Monday to Sunday between 09:00 and 15:00 at +43 0800 201 211.

How to wash your hands, properly

The World Health Organization (WHO) as well as national and international health organizations stress how crucial proper hand-hygiene is to slow the spread of the disease.

Make sure that you and everybody around you clean their hands regularly, properly (20 seconds or more) and with soap – soap actually kills the virus.

Reduce physical contact (instead of handshake do an elbow bunch or Vulcan greeting, for instance) where possible.

We will keep updating this page as new developments unfold. Keep safe, keep informed and live long and prosper 🖖!

Benjamin Wolf
Benjamin studied Journalism, History and International Affairs. After stints with Cafébabel in Paris and Arte in Strasbourg, he is now working as managing editor and COO for Metropole in Vienna. Fields of expertise are politics, economics, culture, and history.Photo: Visual Hub

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