CoV on Jan. 18-24 | 1.2% of Population Vaccinated

The coronavirus is shaping our lives. Here’s what happened in regards to COVID-19 in Austria in the week of Jan. 18-24, 2021.

Find here the daily COVID-19 updates for Austria, with everything you need to know about the Coronavirus in Austria, brought to you by Benjamin Wolf, Amina Frassl, and Daniel El-Sabeh.

We compiled for you an overview of the rules in force over the holidays and Christmas and a detailed guide on traveling to Austria during that period.

Austria’s government announced another hard lockdown that started on December 26 and will go through February 7, here are the rules of the lockdown in Austria in detail.

Here’s an overview of where you can get tested for COVID-19 in Vienna. If everything is a bit much for you or you experience domestic violence of any kind, here is our mental health resource article.

Here is a wrap-up of the measures currently in place in Austria.

Week 3, 2021

January 24

News From Austria

  • Starting tomorrow, Jan. 25, FFP2 masks will be mandatory in many areas of public life, including in stores, service providers, and on public transportation.
    • Yesterday, grocery stores, including Hofer, Spar, and REWE (Billa, Merkur, Penny), announced that they would hand out the surgical-grade masks to each customer for free during the first three days of the week.
    • Lidl will provide cost-free FFP2 masks beginning on Thursday. The wholesaler METRO also stated that it will be giving the masks out for free.
      • “This offer is valid as long as reserves last at the respective location,” said REWE in a statement today.
      • The chain currently has five million masks in stock and has ordered 25 million more.
      • The other stores also confirmed that they have stocked up on FFP2 masks.
    • Those who refuse to wear a FFP2 mask will be fined 25 euro, according to the Health ministry.
  • Austrian ministries reported 1,202 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The 7-day incidence is currently 118 per 100,000 residents.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total15,6421,8173207,418
Daily change-233-31-3+29
In percent-1.5%-1.7%-0.9%+0.4%
Daily Tests*RecoveredTested Positive
Total16,096381,654404,714
Daily change-6,476+1,406+1,202
In percent-28.7%+0.4%+0.3%
*daily tests refers to reported PCR tests, rapid antigen tests are not included
People Vaccinated*
Total~170,144
Daily change+/-0
In percent+/-0%
Percentage of population1.91%
*people who received at least one dose of the vaccine

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, January 24, 2021.

  • After the South African variant was identified in Tyrol, the state has ordered state-wide PCR tests in the district of Schwaz. The tests will be conducted in Schwaz, Mayrhofen, and Fügen. The Hochfügen mountain railways have shut down their operations.
    • The population is asked to take part in the tests.
    • As of Sunday noon, according to Elmar Rizzoli, the head of the country’s corona task force, 600 people have registered.
  • In an elderly home in Münster (located in the district of Kufstein) in Tyrol, 16 individuals tested positive for the virus. According to the state, this cluster can be traced to people in the district of Schwaz.
  • Several cases of the South African mutation B.1.351 have been confirmed in Tyrol.
    • Five people in Zillertal and two individuals in Innsbruck are infected with the virus strain.
    • According to the state, all seven fell ill between Jan. 8 and 11.
    • The infected are employees at the Hochfügen railways. It remains unknown how they contracted the virus.
    • About 21 additional cases are being analyzed for the mutation.
  • After 42 ski instructors tested positive for the virus in the ski town Flachau in Salzburg, local authorities ordered mass tests today.
    • Almost a fifth – 533 people -of the approximately 2,900 residents got tested, none of which were positive.
  • The President of the Medical Chamber Thomas Szekeres stressed that top politicians should be vaccinated as quickly as possible. He believes that after the ill and above 80 year-olds, members of the federal government, state government, and presidents should receive the vaccine.
    • Szekeres also said that all doctors, regardless of their specialization and health insurance, should administer the COVID-19 vaccine. “As much as possible, as fast as possible,” he said.
    • However, Austria needs the vaccines first. When asked about the recent delivery setbacks, Szekeres expressed cautious criticism of the EU.
    • There seems to be some additional uncertainty regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine. It is rumored that it will not be approved for elderly because too few people over 65 were included in the studies required for approval.
    • Szekeres said that there is little more that could be done other than wait for the European Medicines Agency’s approval, expected this Friday. He has “complete confidence” in the institution.
  • Starting tomorrow, Viennese libraries will begin offering in-store pick up. Customers can order via the online catalogue and will be notified as soon as their item(s) is ready for pick up.
    • This service is free of charge.
    • Customers have seven days to pick up their item(s).
    • This service will be offered in all store branches, except for the locations in the Hasengasse and Erzherzog-Karl-Straße.
  • Since Jan. 18, 5,500 COVID-19 gurgle tests have been conducted at Viennese kindergartens and schools. In kindergartens, only ten out of 4,098 tests – 0.24% – were identified as positive, and in schools, eight of 1,401 tests – 0.57% – were positive.
  • In Carinthia, all residents and employees who are registered in all 76 elderly homes have already received the first dose of the vaccine. Despite a shortage, the state guarantees them a second dose. Others, however, must continue waiting.
  • The Austrian Bundesheer (military) has delivered around 52,000 FFP2 masks to 243 social facilities in the country. The federal government has provided for cost-free masks for low-income individuals.
  • Also starting tomorrow, the Viennese Stadhalle will be converted into a corona testing street.
    • In response to the new weekly testing requirement for specific professional groups, Vienna is expanding its testing offerings.
    • All Viennese residents can get tested free of charge, as long as they register online beforehand, City Health Councillor Peter Hacker said in a press briefing.
    • The Stadhalle will become host to two testing streets, with a maximum capacity of 1,8000 people per day.
    • As of right now, Vienna has three testing streets: one near the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, one on the Donauinsel, and another located in the Austria Center.
    • Hacker announced that the city plans to open more testing locations “spread across town.” These will open in the next few days.
  • Vienna is also expanding its PCR-gurgle test option to federal schools and private kindergartens. In addition, administrative employees who have customer contact will receive self-test kits starting Monday.
    • Next, Vienna will provide all city employees with gurgle test kits.
  • Due to the Brazilian virus strain, the Health Ministry has banned flights from Brazil, effective tomorrow. Additionally, the government has extended the arrival bans for flights from South Africa and the United Kingdom until Feb. 7.
  • Yesterday in an Ö1 interview, Karl Nehammer announced tougher action against mask violations at anti-corona protests. He indicated that mask and social distance violators will be fined 500 euro. In the future, there may also be an upper limit to the number of participants.
    • The police filed complaints against individuals who participated at an unregistered protest that took place in Vienna’s inner city yesterday.

News From Elsewhere

  • After hearing about the AstraZeneca delivery delays, President of the European Council Charles Michel demands an explanation. To ensure the company complies with the agreements it signed with the European Union, the EU could use “legal measures,” said Michel.
    • “We expect the pharmaceutical company confirms that they will keep to the terms of the agreement,” Michel told the French channel Europa 1.
    • Additionally, the EU demands “transparent dialogue” from the company.
    • During his interview, Michel showed understanding that “obstacles” arise when building production capacities and supply chains for vaccines.
    • However, the EU must “roll up its sleeves and fight” to find out the exact reasons for the delays and to mitigate them.
  • The German government is preparing for possible attacks on vaccine centers, vaccine transports, or corona vaccine producers.
    • Although there has thus far not been any concrete indications that such attacks are planned, there is an “abstract risk” because of the “large media presence as well as high dynamics and emotionality” surrounding this topic,” according to a statement by the German Interior Ministry.
  • Due to a high number of cases, Israel wants to close its international airport, said Minister President Benjamin Netanyahu. As reported by the Israeli media, the Ben Gurion Airport will be shut, effective tomorrow midnight until the end of the month.
    • Netanyahu said that there would only be a few exceptions to the shutdown, with which the government aims to prevent further mutations from being brought into Israel.
    • According to official information, up to 40% of new cases can be traced back to the UK variant.
    • In the past, the Israeli government has been severely criticized for lax checks at the airport.
  • After cases of the UK strain were identified in Oslo, Sweden has temporarily banned arrivals from Norway. This order is effective at midnight and valid until Feb. 14, said Interior Minister Michael Damberg.
  • Today hundreds of unorthodox Israelis clashed with the local police, which wanted to enforce corona measures. Recently, an influential rabbi called for the reopening of schools, despite an existing ban to do so.
  • The newly imposed nightly curfew in the Netherlands has led to protests and violence. In Urk, a small town north of Amsterdam, dozens of people protested against the curfew.
    • The protestors threw stones and rockets at the police and destroyed police cars.
    • According to the police, teenagers set one a coronavirus testing center on fire.
    • People in Stein, in the South of the country, also clashed with the police, as it disbanded an illegal party with 100 attendees.
    • Nation-wide the police has fined 3,600 individuals and arrested 25 since the first night of the curfew, which lasts from 21:00 to 4:30.
  • Germany has tightened the entry requirements for travelers arriving from 20 states with a high number of COVID-19 cases.
    • Among others, the high-risk states include Czechia, Portugal, Spain, Egypt, and the U.S.
    • Travelers coming from these countries must provide evidence of a negative coronavirus test (PCR, lab, or rapid test) that is no older than 48 hours at the German border.
  • Almost 25 million Americans have contracted the virus since the start of the pandemic, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
  • Although New Zealand has thus far barley been affected by the virus, it seems that there may be the first local case of infection with the coronavirus since November.
    • Today the authorities announced that a 56 year-old woman who had quarantined for two weeks after returning from a 4-month stay abroad (from Spain and the Netherlands) has now tested positive for the virus.
    • After testing negative twice and leaving quarantine, she and her husband traveled to 30 different locations north of Auckland in the Northland region. Contact tracing has now started in this area.
    • The Health Minister Chris Hipkins told journalist that it is unclear whether a national lockdown must be implemented.
  • Israel has started inoculating teenagers. As stated on its website, the country’s largest healthcare provider, Clalit, administered the COVID vaccine to a teen yesterday.
    • On Thursday, the Israeli Health Ministry announced that it would vaccinate high school students between the ages 16 and 18 with the guardian’s approval.
    • The country’s other three healthcare providers will administer vaccines to the youth at a later time.
    • Since the start of the its vaccine campaign on Dec. 20, Israel has vaccinated a total of 2.5 million individuals.
  • In protest to the corona restrictions, hundreds of restaurant owners in Czechia opened their businesses yesterday.
    • “We have been dissatisfied with the government for a while,” said Jiri Janecek from the Maly-Janek-Brewery in Jince southwest from Prague. Janecek said that the auhorites had followed “the wrong path.”
      • The brewery was half-filled with guests yesterday. They were drinking beer and eating pork chops or Schnitzel.
    • Spokesman for the City of Prague Vit Hofman said that open businesses violating the corona measures could be fined up to 766 euro.
  • As of yesterday, one million people have been vaccinated in France. This had been the country’s goal for the month of January.
    • France started inoculating its residents on Dec. 27.
    • Next, the state aims to vaccinate 15 million people until June, said Secretary of State for Economy and Finance Agnès Pannier-Runacher. She is “pretty optimistic” that France can meet this goal.
  • Italy has deeply criticized the vaccine delivery shortfall. In a written statement on Facebook, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca’s delivery delays “worrying.”
    • For Italy, the delays would reduce the number of vaccine doses by 60% in the first quarter of 2021. “This means that, instead of eight million vaccine doses, Italy will only receive 3.4 million,” Conte wrote.
    • “These delays in vaccine deliveries are serious breaches of contract and cause great damage to Italy and other countries, which are moving along faster with their vaccine campaigns, large damage,” Conte continued.
  • After being among numerous high-ranked officials to receive the vaccine earlier than others, Spain’s Chief of Defense General Miguel Ángel Villarroya announced his resignation yesterday.

Go to the next page for news from January 23.

Amina Frassl
Amina is Metropole's online content manager. She writes about news and news analysis and is currently completing her studies in journalism and politics at NYU.

Current Status

We compiled for you a detailed guide on traveling to Austria during the pandemic.

If you live in Vienna, make sure to register for getting a vaccine against COVID-19 under impfservice.wien. If you already registered and it is the turn for your age or risk group, here you can book your vaccination appointment.

Vienna and Lower Austria have re-opened shops and services “close to the body” on May 3. 

Austria plans to open up the economy and society on May 19, with those vaccinated, tested negative or recently infected getting access to many places with a “green pass.” 

Here’s an overview of where you can get tested for COVID-19 in Vienna and how the free, weekly PCR “gargle” tests at home work. 

If everything is a bit much for you or you experience domestic violence of any kind, here is our mental health resource article.

Numbers

For current coronavirus numbers, check the website of Ministry of Health and the AGES dashboard.

The Austrian Ministry of Health also published daily vaccination statistics and a preview of scheduled deliveries.

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 telephone1450

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.