The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in July

After the lockdown, here is how Austria is dealing with the “new normality” of the coronavirus.

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.

Now, with cases rising again in Austria – but 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 July 2020.

July 30, 2020:

  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) presented a preview of the planned Corona-Ampel,” the coronavirus “traffic-light” warning systems for Austrian regions that should be tested in August and fully launched in September.
    • The colors green (low risk), yellow (medium risk), orange (high risk) and red (acute situation) will be used, indicating the current epidemiological situation down to the district level (Bezirksebene).
    • The situation is to be regularly evaluated according to indicators such as the seven-day case numbers, hospital occupancy, traceability of infection chains and the number of tests in the region.
    • An expert commission with representatives from the coronavirus crisis committee, the chancellery and the ministry of health will decide the colors of the regions.
    • Based on the indicated colors, still-to-be-defined measures should be enacted and recommendations communicated.
    • The Corona-Ampel is part of a 17-point plan to react to different coronavirus scenarios in the fall, currently being developed by the Health Ministry.
  • Today, new travel regulations for Austria entered into force.
    • Upon entering the country from a country or region defined as a coronavirus risk area, a negative PCR test has to be presented.
    • In the absence of showing a negative test result, travelers have to enter a 48-hour quarantine during which they have to do the test.
    • This applies to Austrians, EU-citizens and third-country nationals with a permanent residency permit in Austria; third-country nationals with neither have to enter a 14-days quarantine no matter what.
  • A new small coronavirus cluster around a memorial service was detected in Vienna’s 10th district, Favoriten, after one of the attendants had returned from holidays and spread the virus to seven other people.

July 29, 2020:

  • Currently, 1,585 have an active coronavirus infection in Austria. The active case count decreased by -14 since yesterday. 89 patients with COVID-19 are treated at Austrian hospitals, a decrease of -6 since yesterday; 15 are getting intensive care, one fewer than before.
  • All coronavirus tests in St. Wolfgang have been analyzed, the total number of infections stands at 62.
  • Today’s council of ministers is expected to bring news and more details about the planned Corona “traffic light” warning system that the government plans to introduce in September.
  • About 2,800 people are currently in quarantine in Lower Austria due to having been in contact with people who tested positive for the coronavirus. To date, local authorities conducted more than 5,000 controls whether the quarantine was kept.

July 28, 2020:

  • Currently, 1,599 people in Austria have an active coronavirus infection. This is an increase of 50 cases since yesterday. 95 patients are being treated for COVID-19 in Austrian hospitals, 16 of which are in intensive care.
  • The International Atomic Agency (IAEA) has reported another case of coronavirus among its staff. The staff member went into quarantine, all contacts were informed and are currently being tested as well.
  • A new coronavirus cluster in the holiday resort of St. Wolfgang in the Salzkammergut, in the federal state of Upper Austria, reported a total of 62 cases so far.
    • Until now, 17 hotels or restaurants and one shop were affected by the outbreak that probably started after several summer interns in the village got together.
    • The cluster in St. Wolfgang was highly publicized since it was the first one in an Austrian holiday destination during this summer.
    • As an immediate reaction, the Austrian Red Cross established “drive through” coronavirus testing facilities and a sweeping testing scheme has been set up for the village’s workers, guests and inhabitants.
    • Everyone who was in St. Wolfgang after July 15 is called on to pay close attention to their health status. For more information, holiday makers can call 06138/8003.
  • The Austrian teachers’ unions urged the government to present more detailed information about the upcoming school year, ideally in the form of a “master plan.”
    • Union boss Paul Kimberger is in favor of making mouth-nose-protections (i.e. masks) mandatory for everyone at schools in the fall.
    • Kimberger also asked for worked-out scenarios from the ministry that can be applied if schools have to switch back to distance learning at some point in the next school year.

July 27, 2020:

  • Researchers at the Vienna BioCenter have developed a new fast, cheap and easy coronavirus test that can be conducted at home, with a simple test kit and a kitchen stove. Grace Liu, a researcher at the center, has written an exclusive article for Metropole explaining how this came about and why it is a big deal.

July 25, 2020:

  • There are currently 1,502 active and known cases of the coronavirus in Austria, 41 more than yesterday. 101 patients are currently being treated for COVID-19 in Austrian hospitals, 16 of which are getting intensive care.
  • With active coronavirus cases numbers on the rise albeit on a low level in Austria, a debate about the accuracy and significance of test results has emerged.
    • Andreas Sönnichsen, a doctor and researcher at the Center for Public Health at the Medical University of Vienna, pointed to inevitable inaccuracies when a very large number of people is tested while only a very small number have the virus – the number of “false positives” may then well exceed the number of actual positives considerably, painting a distorted picture of the situation.
    • Sönnichsen maintains that COVID-19 “is barely present among the population” anymore.
    • His argument is built on the specifity of tests, i.e. how often a test will yield a false positive. Most experts assume that modern PCR tests have a specifity of over 99% (i.e. 1 or fewer in 100 tests is a false positive), Sönnichsen believes it is closer to 98.5%.
    • While this may seem like a small number, at the current test rate of 6,000-7,000 tests a day in Austria, a specifity of 98.5% would mean between 90-105 “false positives” every day – as Sönnichsen points out, almost precisely the number we are seeing.
    • Other experts like Klemens Himpele, head of Vienna’s MA 23 tasked with testing in the city, underlines that testing is still the best strategy to detect big outbreaks early on.
  • New stricter rules for entering Austria entered into force on Friday.
    • Anyone entering the country from one of 32 states or territories defined as having an unstable or risky COVID-19 situation has to self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
    • Upon request, a PCR coronavirus test can be made within the first 48 hours, which however has to be paid from one’s own pocket.
    • If the result is negative, there is no need for home quarantine. Alternatively, travelers can also present a negative test result not older than four days upon crossing the border.
    • The countries and territories classified as risky are: Albania, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Egypt, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kosovo, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Nigeria, Northern Macedonia, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Sweden, Senegal, Serbia, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, United States and Hubei Province (China).
  • As a general rule, third-country nationals are not permitted to enter Austria at the moment.
    • This rule does not apply to third-country nationals who have their permanent residence in Austria, nor does it apply to EU, EEC, Swiss or British citizens.
    • However, even those who can enter legally may have to present a negative SARS-CoV2 test result or enter a 14-day quarantine if they have been to risk areas in the last couple of days or weeks (see explanation above).
    • A test or home-quarantine is not necessary when entering Austria after having staid at least 10 consecutive days beforehand in the following countries, : Andorra, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czechia, Hungary, Vatican City, United Kingdom and Cyprus.
  • Several new coronavirus infections have been detected in a home for construction workers in Vorarlberg, near the villages of Frastanz and Schröcken. 16 confirmed infections tripled the current number of active infections in the federal state.
  • A child taking part in a summer camp organized by the City of Vienna was confirmed to have tested positive for the coronavirus. All direct contacts of the child were asked to go separately into home quarantine.

July 24, 2020:

  • The number of people with an active coronavirus infection in Austria rose by 16 to a total of 1,461. Currently, 103 people with COVID-19 are treated in hospitals, 17 of which need intensive care.
    • While the government calls for heightened cautions, it is also at pains to point out that the situation now is different from March and the rise in cases much less steep.
    • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) called the recent developments “no reason for alarmism” but also said that with infection numbers rising again all across Europe and globally, new measures may well be on the cards.
  • The EU advises travelers to wear masks on busses, trains or planes when traveling within Europe.
  • 16 new coronavirus infections were registered in recent days in the popular tourist location of St. Wolfgang in Upper Austria. Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) stressed that all infection chains were tracked and traced, infected people are now in quarantine. However, Köstinger also admitted that the current test rate of 14,000 per week is still decidedly under the goal of up to 65,000 tests a week.
  • Finland and Tunisia have reintroduced mandatory 14-quarantine for travelers from Austria.
  • The drugstore chain dm will remove the PCR test for €119 they are currently offering from their shelves for the next couple of days. Austria’s Federal Agency for Safety in the Health Care Sector (BASG) demanded further details and better labeling of the tests.
  • As of today, wearing a mask is again mandatory in supermarkets, banks and post offices, as well as in hospitals and care homes in Austria. Mask up!

July 23, 2020:

  • The decree to reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing in supermarkets, banks and post offices, starting this Friday, was published today. It also includes an obligation to wear masks when visiting a care home or hospital. Masks continue to be obligatory on public transport and in pharmacies.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, 20,000 people in Austria have been tested positive for the coronavirus. Of those, 1,369 people are currently infected (17 fewer than yesterday), 111 patients with COVID-19 are treated in the hospital and 18 of these are in intensive care units (ICUs).

July 22, 2020:

  • The first trial in Austria concerning the breach of coronavirus containment measures kicked off today in Carinthia.
    • The defendant is a 49-year-old woman from Klagenfurt who was tested positive for COVID-19 and was thus obliged to self-isolate at home.
    • Nevertheless, she went to the supermarket and the post office without a mask.
    • The woman is charged with having breached the quarantine restrictions deliberately and carelessly (i.e. not wearing a mask), endangered others to catch a dangerous disease.
    • The maximum penalty is up to three years in prison.
    • The trial is the first of its kind in Austria; a future ruling is already considered to become a landmark in how to adjudicate breaches of coronavirus measures in the country.

July 21, 2020:

  • Starting this Friday, July 24, wearing a mask will again be mandatory in supermarkets as well as in banks and post offices.
    • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) stressed that Austria has seen a rise in cases in recent weeks, also surpassing 100 new cases a day, which had been been identified as a critical limit for tightening measures again by Kurz.
    • Kurz also stressed that many new cases had their origins abroad, particularly on the Balkans, which is why Austria will strengthen border control measures and control quarantine measures for travelers more stringently.
    • Several new clusters in recent weeks were identified within church congregations, which is why masses and other services will also be reduced in frequency going forward.
    • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) announced that the government will out a “corona traffic light system” for Austrian regions in August.
    • The decision on the reintroduction of mandatory mask-wearing was planned for last Sunday, but was postponed so that Chancellor Kurz could attend the press conference himself, after he had attended the EU summit longer than expected.
  • A new coronavirus cluster has been identified after a graduation party at a New Middle School in Neukirchen, district Vöcklabruck, in Upper Austria. 14 people have so far been tested positive, other contacts are now being tested.
  • Scientists at the Technical University of Vienna and the University of Vienna are working on an ambitious coronavirus test program in the sewage plants of 20 Austrian cities.
    • New methods allow to detect the virus in the sewage if just one of 10,000 people is infected, making early detection of outbreaks significantly easier.
    • Innsbruck micro biologist Heribert Insam underlined that it is not the living virus that can be found in the sewage, but only particles.
    • Norbert Kreuzinger from the TU Wien said: “We need about half a liter, and then we have to centrifuge it for a few hours,” to find indications of an outbreak.

July 20, 2020:

  • The Austrian government plans to reconsider the current coronavirus measures shortly. A special meeting for this purpose was planned last Sunday, but was postponed due to an ongoing EU summit in Brussels. Observers expect that mandatory mask-wearing and other hygiene measures will be reintroduced in certain settings (e.g. supermarkets).
  • A new coronavirus cluster has been detected within the congregation of Orthodox-Serb churches in Vienna.
    • The church of Saint Sava in the 3rd district and the church of the Allerheiligsten Gottesgebärerin (the Most Holy Mother of Christ) in the 16th district will be closed until August 1.
    • So far, seven members of the congregation (three priests and four family members) have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, all others are now being tested.
    • If you attended mass or another event at one of these churches between July 7-12, please call the health hotline 1450 to make sure you get tested.
  • Almost 800,000 SARS-CoV-2 tests have been carried out in Austria so far. That means almost every tenth citizen of Austria has been tested since the beginning of the pandemic.

July 18, 2020:

  • The number of active coronavirus in Austria decreased slightly compared to yesterday. Currently, there are 1,361 people in Austria with an active SARS-CoV-2 infection, 32 fewer than on Friday. A total 98 patients with COVID-19 are treated in Austrian hospitals, 11 are in intensive care.
  • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) and Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) announced that they will discuss the potential reintroduction of mandatory mask-wearing in shops and supermarkets at tomorrow’s cabinet meeting. A decision will be taken and then communicated, said Kurz.

July 17, 2020:

  • The number of coronavirus cases in Austria is again increasing at a faster clip. From yesterday to today, 162 new cases were confirmed by the Health Ministry. The number of active infections rose by 78 to a total of 1,393.
  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) announced that the government is working on a 17-points plan to control the spread of the virus going into the fall, which it will announce shortly.
    • The Ministry of Health will also issue regional guidelines for areas where higher infection numbers and clusters were detected.
    • Anschober stressed that a return to mandatory mask-wearing in certain settings is very much on the table and that, if infection numbers continue to rise, the measure could be reintroduced soon.
  • The Austrian Medical Chamber (ÖAK) issued an appeal to make mask-wearing again mandatory in shops, stores and other closed room.
    • “Voluntary [mask-wearing] does not work. If it doesn’t work in a voluntary way, you have to make it compulsory, and as soon as possible,” said ÖAK President Thomas Szekeres at a press conference.
    • At the same time, Szekeres also underlined that Austria’s coronavirus numbers were still very good, the numbers would “rise slowly, not explode.”
    • Szekeres appealed to the people and to authorities to use this phase of relative calm during the pandemic to prepare ourselves better for the contingency of a second wave.
  • Starting this October, the City of Vienna will offer free flu shots. The city government has prepared 400,000 shots with which it wants to triple flu vaccination coverage rates from 8% in previous years to 24%. The shots will be administered in the Wiener Messe.

July 16, 2020:

  • The number of active coronavirus cases in Austria is still one the rise, albeit significantly slower than in past weeks.
    • Exactly 1,315 people in Austria are currently registered as being actively infected with SARS-CoV-2, that’s 46 more active infections than yesterday.
    • The number of people treated for COVID-19 in Austrian hospitals decreased by two to 94.
    • Eleven patients are in intensive care.
  • An emerging coronavirus cluster around a Free Church around Wiener Neustadt in Lower Austria now counts 22 positive cases of coronavirus. All 200 members of the church are currently in isolation and are being tested.

July 15, 2020:

  • New coronavirus infections were found in a slaughterhouse in Eggenburg in Lower Austria. After 24 positive cases were detected, the entire staff of 244 people was put in isolation and will now be tested for SARS-CoV-2.

July 14, 2020:

  • Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) mused about reintroducing mandatory mask-wearing in supermarkets. The new “corona traffic light” system that the government is currently rolling out for Austria’s regions will prescribe several measures such as mask-wearing if the situation warrants it.
  • After a cluster around a Free Church in Upper Austria has sent coronavirus infections in the federal state soaring in recent weeks, a new emerging cluster around a Free Church in Lower Austria has now been found. The church in the region of Wiener Neustadt with 200 congregants as well as a nearby school were closed, an ABC unit of the Federal Army was called in to disinfect the church and other buildings.
  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) announced that starting this Thursday, July 16, planes coming from 10 countries will no longer be permitted to land in Austria due to rising coronavirus infection rates there. Including these new restrictions, Austria bans direct flight traffic with 18 countries in total. These countries are:
    • Belarus
    • China
    • United Kingdom
    • Iran
    • Portugal
    • Russia
    • Sweden
    • Ukraine
    • Bulgaria
    • Romania
    • Moldava
    • Egypt
    • Serbia
    • Bosnia & Herzegovina
    • North Macedonia
    • Albania
    • Kosovo
    • Montenegro

July 13, 2020:

  • The number of active coronavirus infections in Austria stands at 1,237 cases. A total of 83 patients with COVID-19 are treated in Austrian hospitals, 10 of which are getting intensive care.
    • Upper Austria is currently the most affected federal state, with 543 active cases (or 36 per 100,000 citizens).
    • It is followed by Vienna with 394 active cases (21 cases / 100,000 people).
    • All other federal states still report markedly lower numbers:
      • Salzburg: 49 active cases (9 / 100,000)
      • Burgenland: 20 active cases (7 / 100,000)
      • Tyrol: 47 active cases (6 / 100,000)
      • Styria: 76 active cases (6 / 100,000)
      • Carinthia: 18 active cases (3 / 100,000)
      • Vorarlberg: 5 active cases (1 / 100,000)
  • Starting this week, a new coronavirus test for home-use will be sold in shops of the Austrian drugstore chain Bipa.
    • The test was developed by Viennese biotech startup Lead Horizon and involves one minute of gargling a fluid and then sending the saliva sample to a laboratory in Vienna.
    • First test kits are scheduled to be delivered to drugstores this Monday, July 13.
    • Results should be available within 24 hours.
    • The tests costs €118 apiece.

July 10, 2020:

  • The rise of active coronavirus cases in Austria has slowed down again in recent days. It grew by 44 cases (or 4%) from yesterday to today, to a total of 1,195 cases currently. The number of hospitalized patients and patients in intensive care unit is also still mostly stable.
  • Today was the last school day for 650,000 students in the federal states of Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Salzburg, Upper Austria, Styria and Carinthia. In Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland, school vacations already started a week ago.
    • More than 1.1 million school children, teenagers and teachers can now look forward to nine weeks of holidays – with the prospect of how school will reopen in the fall depended on the evolving virus situation.
    • The beginning of school vacations dovetails with a recent spike in coronavirus cases, due to which some schools in Upper Austria already closed earlier.

July 9, 2020:

  • The City of Vienna has stockpiled massive amounts of equipment for a potential second wave or outbreak of the coronavirus. The Viennese “Corona Compound” close to the clinic Hietzing currently stockpiles 1.35 million FFP2 masks, 235,000 FFP3 masks, 1.02 million coveralls and protective coats, plus vast quantities of medicines and disinfectants.
  • The number of active coronavirus infections in Austria continues to rise, albeit more slowly than in the last two weeks.
  • Austrian Airlines continues to increase the frequency of flights from Vienna, from currently 20% to 40% of the pre-Covid flight capacity. In September, more capacity will be added on major routes. The still-reduced summer schedule will be replaced with a completely new and overhauled flight plan in November 2020.
  • According to statistics, 4% of all deaths in Austria in March and April had COVID-19 as reason, declared Tobias Thomas, director of Statistik Austria.
    • Thomas said: “With the outbreak of the Covid 19 crisis in mid-March, mortality in Austria has risen noticeably. The peak was reached in the first half of April, with around 16 percent more deaths than the average of the last five years. Thereafter, mortality fell back to the level of previous years. Overall, mortality was therefore only one per cent higher in March and April than in previous years.”

July 8, 2020:

  • “This is not the path we envisioned to tread,” said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) when announcing renewed official travel warnings for several countries in Southeastern and Eastern Europe today.
    • After an uptick in new cases in Upper Austria and other regions, the number of new coronavirus infections per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 1.1 at the national level. A total of 1,086 people in Austria have an infective coronavirus infection.
    • Schallenberg pointed out that “more and more recent cases can be traced” to people traveling back and forth between countries, hence he issued an “urgent appeal” not travel there at the moment.
    • Travelers entering Austria from any of the following countries (see below) need to self-quarantine for 14 days at home or otherwise show a negative COVID-19 test result. The police can issue fines of up to €1,450 for any infringement, more than 1,800 police officers will control travelers in the border areas.
    • More information can be found on the website of the Austrian Foreign Ministry.
    • People living in Austria are advised not to travel currently to the following countries (in parentheses, number of new coronavirus infections in the last 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants):
      • Bosnia & Herzegovina (6.2)
      • Montenegro (8.4)
      • Serbia (5.2)
      • Montenegro (8.5)
      • North Macedonia (9.3)
      • Albania (3.4)
      • Bulgaria (2.8)
      • Romania (2.6)
      • Moldova (8.5)
      • Ukraine (2.7)
      • Turkey (2.1)
  • A new coronavirus test can detect the virus by gargling and then analyzing a saliva sample.
    • The test, invented and produced in Austria, is supposed to b a simpler, more pleasant and easily scalable alternative to the classical PCR test currently in use, which relies on swabs of the internal nose.
    • After a trial period with 5,000 tests at two Viennese schools, experts and doctors reported that the new tests have proved themselves to be reliable alternatives to the classical PCR test.
    • “You can use it to test whole schools in a completely painless and uncomplicated, low-threshold way in a short time,” said Michael Wagner from the University of Vienna. This also makes it possible to react quickly to positive test results.
    • Currently, the University of Vienna can analyze 4,000 test samples per day. The university plans to test all its employees every two weeks with this new method.
    • Since the method is simple, testing capacity can also relatively easily be scaled, potentially opening up new possibilities for nation-wide and cluster testing in the fall.
  • The federal state (Bundesland) of Carinthia reintroduced mandatory mask-wearing in public in tourist hotspots for the time between 21:00 and 02:00 in the morning every day. The measure applies to Velden and several other towns at Lake Wörthersee, Faaker See and Klopeiner See.

July 7, 2020:

  • The federal state (Bundesland) of Upper Austria will reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing in shops, stores, restaurants, bars and official buildings.
    • The measure will take effect this Thursday, July 9.
    • The tightening of measures follows a spike of coronavirus cases in the region around the state capital of Linz, linked to a Free Church and meat-processing plants in the surroundings.
    • It is a step in tune with Austria’s strategy of reacting with tailored measures to regional outbreaks instead of a nation-wide shutdown.
https://twitter.com/JurgenKlatzer/status/1280458690789871616
  • In recent weeks, the number of active coronavirus infections in Austria have again risen considerably. But the number of hospitalized patients stayed stable. Experts discuss the reasons:
    • Austria currently has more than 1,000 active coronavirus infections, but only a relatively small number of 91 patients are being treated in a hospital, 11 are in an intensive care unit (ICU).
    • The percentage of hospitalized patients as a share of the infected population has decreased from over 30% at the beginning of May to less than 10% in July; the number people in intensive care as a share of hospitalized patients fell from 30% at the end of May to about 15% in July.
    • Similar trends have also been noted in countries that were hit much harder by the virus – in the UK, the number of patients needing intensive care as a share of hospitalized patients plummeted from 12% to 2-3%; in the US, the number of daily deaths has fallen to a fifth, despite skyrocketing infection numbers.
    • Experts see several reasons for that:
      • The average age of infected people is now lower than before and the virus takes a less severe course for most younger, healthier people (in Germany, the average age of the infected fell from 52 to 37 years).
      • Better protection and hygiene standards for care homes, which were hit hardest in the beginning of the pandemic.
      • Better treatments – doctors have made several big advancements regarding what to give COVID-19 patients at which stage of the disease, resulting in significantly less ICU hospitalizations.
      • More testing – the number of active infections now is highly likely to be much closer to the number of real infections than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, in pretty much every country.
  • For several weeks now, Vienna has been following its own testing strategy for keeping the coronavirus under control.
    • Instead of only testing people with symptoms or direct contacts with people who were tested positive, the city is testing the entire “environment,” meaning places of work, leisure, extended family and friend networks.
    • A spokesperson for Peter Hacker, City Councilor of Health (SPÖ), claimed that “up to 909 cases (65.2%) in the last two months” would not have been detected without this strategy.
    • In fact, while the case numbers in Vienna have stayed higher than in Austria throughout the last eight weeks, they were also significantly less volatile – while recent new cases in Upper Austria and other clusters led to a considerable uptick of total numbers in several other federal states, there has only been a minor increase in new cases in Vienna in the last two weeks.
  • The number of people in short-time work (Kurzarbeit) in Austria decreased to a little over 400,000 workers. At the height of the crisis, more than 1.3 million people were enrolled in the state-backed furlough scheme.
  • The EU published a new economic forecast for Austria, predicting a coronavirus-induced recession of -7.1% this year (2020) and a recovery of +5.6% in the next (2021). Both the downswing and the upturn are more pronounced in the current forecast than in the previous spring paper published by the European Commission.
  • The Austrian market-liberal think tank Agenda Austria published a report on Austria’s economy and society during and after the coronavirus lockdown (in German). One striking finding is that car usage in Austria during the lockdown plummeted precipitously, to less than 20% of its normal value – but has increased again since.

July 6, 2020:

  • As of Monday, July 6, 2020, there are more than 1,000 active coronavirus cases in Austria.
    • This is more than double the number than 14 days ago, where the count of active cases in Austria stood at 370.
    • Most new cases can still be traced to virus clusters, the biggest of which is in the federal state of Upper Austria, where a Free Church and now also slaughterhouses turned out to be hotbeds for virus spread.
  • PCR tests for detecting an active coronavirus infection are now available in selected Austrian pharmacies for €150 apiece. After gargling two minutes with a specific mouthwash, saliva can be collected in tube and sent to a laboratory. A test result will be available 24 hours later. The test is produced by Austrian company “Yes we care GmbH.”
  • The Vienna-based biotech company Apeiron Biologics has developed a drug that could help battle COVID-19 in patients with more severe cases.
    • The agent with the name APN01 is being tested in a clinical trial since April in Austria, Germany and Denmark. But due to sharply falling numbers of people suffering from the virus in recent months, the 200 needed patients could not be found yet.
    • Newly established cooperations with hospitals in the United Kingdom and Russia should now help to bring the number of test patients up to 200 or more.
    • The Austrian state, the City of Vienna and private companies like Erste Bank granted funds of €17.5 million to the research project.
  • Austrian doctor Günter Weiss, an infectional disease expert and director of the University Clinic for Internal Medicine in Innsbruck, maintained that Austria is currently “not experiencing a second wave.”
    • The currently rising numbers of infection have been expected by the corona task force, of which Weiss is a member, and are as such not a problem – as long as they can be attributed to specific clusters.
    • Weiss said he would start to worry if we were to see “300-400 new infections a day” in “60-70 clusters” across the country.
    • Nevertheless, Weiss also underlined how important respecting the distance regulations still is. He criticized a party of more than 1,000 people that recently took place in Innsbruck with the words: “That’s just a lack of common sense and responsibility.”
    • Weiss said the situation will have to be reassessed in the fall – where indoor spread might become more prevalent again – but that even then, a second wave is not certain. Hygiene measures or an evolution of the virus might prevent such a second wave from happening.
    • Finally, Weiss declared himself cautiously optimistic that there’s a good chance for life to be back to mostly normal – as concerning the virus – by this time in the next year.
  • The Vienna Center for Electoral Research has published the second part of its chronology of the coronavirus in Austria. The text is an essential resource for anyone interested in the effectiveness of different measures and current trends regarding the coronavirus in Austria – in English.

July 3, 2020:

  • The effective reproduction number of the coronavirus in Austria has risen to 1.37 this week. Any number over 1 means that each person with the virus infects more than one other person. The spike in numbers is mainly due to a still growing coronavirus cluster in Upper Austria around Linz.
  • Vienna Airport announced that coronavirus tests are now also available on weekends, concretely on Saturdays between 10:00 and 16:00 o’clock. From Monday to Friday, 9:00-17:00, private tests have already been available for several months. Each PCR tests costs €190, a result will be available between 3 and 6 hours after taking the test.
  • Starting on August 1, night bars and discos in Austria can again open with up to 60% of capacity and a maximum of 200 guests. Closing time will be 4:00 in the morning.

July 2, 2020:

  • The active coronavirus cases in Austria have increased by 45 since yesterday, with 70 new people testing positive and 25 others being classified a recovered. The current rise in numbers is most pronounced around an Upper Austrian cluster.
  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) announced a new COVID-19 testing campaign with up to 30,000 additional tests every week starting next week.
    • The additional tests should serve to test workers active in healthcare, care homes, logistics companies or the meat-processing industry.
    • Anschober underlined that regional outbreaks are to be expected in the coming months, but can be brought under control with testing, tracing and discipline.
    • The minister also recommended wearing masks in all crowded spaces or locations where many people meet indoors in close quarters, to reduce potential spread of the virus.

July 1, 2020:

  • Austria registered 114 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours – the highest number since the mid of April, i.e. more than 10 weeks ago.
    • Most of the new numbers can be traced to a cluster in Upper Austria around a Free Church in Linz. Schools in five districts (Bezirke) will close on Friday, while the regional authorities are testing and tracing potential contacts, leading to the higher case numbers.
    • Another smaller cluster in Salzburg developed around a meeting of the Rotary club. The federal state has now 33 active cases.
    • Authorities also see a potential cluster developing in Styria, where 10 people working for a construction firm recently tested positive for the virus.
    • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) underlined that the epidemiological situation on the federal level is still stable and under control. Crucially, Anschober said that new cases can be linked with clusters and thereby traced. Nevertheless, rules like keeping a 1-meter distance, wearing masks in close spaces and washing hands regularly are still strongly advised.
  • The Austrian Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning for the countries of the Western Balkans due to rising coronavirus cases in the region.
    • Concretely, the ministry advises not to travel to Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo.
    • Travelers coming from these countries to Austria need to self-quarantine for 14 days or show a negative COVID-19 test result.
    • There will be additional controls in the border areas with 1,500 police officers conducting spot tests, albeit no direct border controls.
    • More than 530,000 people living in Austria have families or roots in the countries of the Western Balkans, making the connection a very strong one.
    • Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) underlined that no regulation is “set in stone” and that this decision was taken solely on epidemiological grounds; an opening at a later time is still desirable and in the offing.
  • Starting today, July 1, several coronavirus rules expired or were relaxed.
    • All sports are again permitted, indoors and outdoors.
    • Masks are no longer mandatory for waiters and waitresses in restaurants and bars, hotels and eateries can offer buffets.
    • Prostitution is again permitted, brothels can reopen.
    • Events with fewer than 250 people can take place indoors, events with fewer than 500 people can take place outdoors.

Graphics about coming out of quarantine:

Timetable for coming out of quarantine

Timeline for the Cultural Reopening

Rules for going to a restaurant post-Corona

Timeline for reopening schools

For length, clarity and loading times, we have 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

Numbers

As of today, August 10, 2020, the situation in Austria according to the Ministry of Health is as follows:

People tested: 965,758
– of which in Vienna: 246,400
Daily tests: 3,890

Confirmed cases: 22,094 (+130 cases (+0.6%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 5,526
Active cases: 1,373 (-16 cases (-1.2%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 702 (+8 cases (+1%) since yesterday)

Total hospitalized: 116 (-5 cases (-4.1%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 44
In intensive care: 24 (+2 cases (+9.1%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 9

Recovered: 20,010 (+87 cases (+/- 0%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 4,678
Deceased: 723 (+2 case (+0.3%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 204

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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