CoV on Feb. 1-7 | Stricter Controls on Austrian Borders

The coronavirus is shaping our lives. Here’s what happened in regards to COVID-19 in Austria in the week of Feb. 1-7, 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 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 5, 2021

February 7

News From Austria

  • Today Interior Minister Karl Nehammer announced that there will be restrictions and increased controls on all Austrian borders. According to Nehammer, traveling should be reduced to an absolute minimum.
    • “We are now tightening the network of controls at the borders and thus tightening the pressure to monitor compliance with the COVID measures,” said the interior minister in a statement.
    • According to Nehammer, the border controls should serve “as a breakwater for chains of infection that are becoming more and more dangerous due to new virus mutations.”
    •  In addition, there are currently “only a few exceptions to trips that are really absolutely necessary.”
    • Austrian authorities have already been conducting spot checks on the borders to Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Now, these controls will be intensified significantly.
    • Nehammer has also referred to a recent telephone conversation with his German counterpart Horst Seehofer (CSU). Germany had previously criticized the easing of the COVID measures in Austria.
      • According to media reports, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder described “the combination of mutations and a hasty relaxation” in Austria as the “worst path.”
    • Starting Wednesday, all travelers must pre-register and provide a negative test result or self-isolate upon entry into Austria. Registration is mandatory starting Feb. 10 and possible starting Feb. 7.
      • Individuals have the option between providing proof of a negative antigen or PCR test or self-isolating for ten days, with a “free test” option on day 5 of quarantine.
      • Commuters must now also get tested and register once a week. They must also carry a negative antigen or PCR test result that is no older than seven days.
      • Those who commute to Austria less than once a week must register before entering the country.
  • Starting Monday, roughly 400 pharmacies across the country will offer free corona tests. This is a pilot project, which will be expanded step-by-step. Registrations via telephone are “absolutely necessary.”
    • 79 pharmacies in Vienna will offer free tests. Find the complete list and respective phone numbers here.
  • Today’s protests against the COVID measures in Vienna ended up being smaller than initially expected. The situation remained calm.
  • In Feldkirch in Vorarlberg, 950 people demonstrated against corona measures. The protestors criticized the state’s controls and the restrictions.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total13,7741,5602908,012
Daily change+97-32-12+18
In percent+0.7%-2%-4%+0.2%
Daily Tests*RecoveredTested Positive
Total24,208402,053423,839
Daily change-19,788+1,202+1,317
In percent-45%+0.3%+0.3%
*daily tests refers to reported PCR tests, rapid antigen tests are not included
Vaccine Jabs Given
Total307,357
Daily change+9,864
In percent+3.3%
Percentage of population3.45%

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, February 7, 2021.

  • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz wants to produce the Russian vaccine “Sputnik V” and Chinese vaccines in Austria. After their approval, “Austria would definitely try to make production capacities available to suitable domestic companies for Russian or Chinese vaccines,” Kurz told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. “Just like for manufacturers in other countries.”
    • “The point is to get as much safe vaccine as possible as quickly as possible – regardless of who it was developed by,” emphasized Kurz.
    • The chancellor told APA on Thursday that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) should also examine the approval of vaccines from Russia and China. In this regard, there should be “no geopolitical taboos”.
    • “Yes, if the vaccines are approved in Europe,” answered Kurz in the interview when asked whether he himself could be vaccinated with “Sputnik V” or a Chinese vaccine. “The vaccines are all about effectiveness, safety and availability, not geopolitical battles.”
    • Kurz the “currently suboptimal supply” of vaccines for EU citizens on delivery delays and the “approval speed.” He considers it “problematic how bureaucratic and slow the European Medicines Agency is working on the approval of vaccines.”
  • Education Minister Heinz Faßmann rejects an automatic closure of schools at high 7-incidence values. Each case and the source of infection must be considered individually, he said during an interview on ORF “Pressestunde.”
    • Faßmann emphasized that there is an extensive safety concept at the schools which, through regular testing, could possibly even lead to a decrease in the number of infections.
    • He defended the fact that these tests are basically voluntary, but, unlike originally announced, only tested pupils are allowed to take part in face-to-face lessons.
    • With an incidence of 100, face-to-face lessons are no different from the point of view of health protection, he said.
    • Faßmann aims to introduce common test and mask requirements for students and teachers.
    • Currently, teachers must only get tested once a week, while elementary school students have to take the self-tests twice. 
    • In addition, teachers who refuse to take the test can teach with an FFP2 mask, while students without a test are not allowed to come to school and students over 14 must wear an FFP2 mask even after they are tested. 
  • Starting tomorrow, the Wiener Eistraum on the Rathausplatz has to half its visitor limit. The new 20 square meter rule will also applies to the ice skating rink. 
  • Today the federal government is expected to announce whether tighter stricter measures will be imposed in Tyrol to contain the spread of the South African strain.
    • One option is that a stay-at-home order will be announced in the most severely affected areas and all of Tyrol.
    • So far, nothing is for sure, and as ORF reports, this also applies to the loosening of restrictions in the whole country.
  • 165 cases of the South African B.1.351 mutation have been confirmed in Tyrol. Of these 165, only eight people are actively testing positive. There are also numerous suspected cases, said AGES.
    • Most confirmed cases originate from the Schwaz district and the surrounding area.
    • The state of Tyrol tightened corona restrictions, conducted mass testing, and expanded contact tracing in the respective regions.
    • More than 1,500 COVID tests have been carried out so far. 7 people tested positive, and in total, 4,000 people registered to get tested.
    • Every positive PCR test is then “examined for abnormalities.”
    • “We are currently taking the situation very seriously and are implementing our own package of measures – the more tests are available, the more precisely the situation can be assessed,” said the head of the Tyrolean CoV task force, Elmar Rizzoli.
  • Due to the tense situation in Tyrol, mass tests were conducted in five districts (Matrei in Osttirol, Nußdorf-Debant, Kals am Großglockner, Oberlienz und St. Johann im Walde) in East Tyrol this weekend. The results are not yet available.
  • According to the Financial Times, the AstraZeneca vaccine is partially less effective in protecting against the South African strain. The inoculation does not protect against mild and moderate illnesses that are triggered by this variant, reported the newspaper, citing a study that was published earlier this week.
    • However, AstraZeneca has emphasized that its vaccine prevents “severe illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths.”
    • The vaccine produced by the Anglo-Swedish company plays a crucial role in the Austrian vaccination plan. The first delivery with 36,000 doses arrived last night. In total, 700,000 doses are expected to arrive by the end of March.
  • Next to schools, shops, and hairdressers, Viennese libraries will also be reopening on Monday. To enter, a FFP2 mask will be required and at least 20 square meters per person must be available.
    • Libraries have emphasized that there is no rush to come by, as the loans will automatically extended by four additional weeks, until Feb. 19.
    • Customers can find all return dates in their online account.
    • There are also no late fees.
  • Yesterday afternoon, a largely peaceful demonstration against the COVID measures, most specifically protesting the border closure, took place in Salzburg and in the neighboring Bavarian Freilassing on the border river Saalach.
    • Instead of the 2,000 registered people, only 400 to 500 participted in Austria, according to an assessment made by the Salzburg police.

News From Elsewhere

  • Upon the reopening of restaurants, Italians stormed bars over the weekend. Restaurants are open in select yellow regions for the first time in weeks, but only until 6 p.m. and with strict security measures. A maximum of four people can sit at a table.
  • Israel is easing lockdown restrictions despite the persistently high number of infections.
    • Visits in private circles are permitted again, as are outdoor excursions and overnight stays in holiday apartments.
    • Kindergartens and schools will reopen with restrictions on Tuesday.
    • Employees who have no contact with customers may return to their workplaces.
    • However, Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv will remain closed.
    • The government imposed a partial lockdown at the end of December and tightened it a month ago.
    • Despite a successful vaccination campaign, the number of infections remains at a high level. The number of seriously ill people has hardly decreased either. The health system is close to reaching its limit.
  • The German CSU General Secretary Markus Blume has called for increased border controls to prevent a renewed increase in CoV infections from mutated viruses from neighboring countries. “The greatest danger does not come from the hairdresser, but from the border,” Blume told Bild am Sonntag. 
    • “We have to ensure that a particularly dangerous third wave with the mutated virus does not spill over our borders to Germany again,” said Blume. 
    • “Austria and the Czech Republic are endangering our successes in Germany with their irresponsible opening policy,” criticized Blume. “That is why we need more controls by the federal police at all external borders.”
    • With a view to the upcoming Prime Ministerial Conference on Wednesday, Blume ruled out any easing of restrictions in the country. “We have to stick to the current course of caution and prudence. We are not over the mountain. “
  • Last night, some 600 people took to the streets to protest against COVID restrictions in Denmark. The protestors gathered with torches in front of the parliament in Copenhagen in the freezing cold. Children were also in attendance.
    • The Danish are protesting against a planned CoV vaccination pass, which will allow vaccinated individuals to travel and possibly also enter restaurants, cultural or sporting events.
    •  In Denmark, schools, restaurants, bars and most shops have been closed since mid-December. 
    • In January the government extended the partial lockdown until the end of February. 
    • However, the elementary schools are allowed to reopen tomorrow.
  • Chile has vaccinated 555,000 people against the coronavirus in just three days. On Friday, 112,000 seniors over the age of 85 received the inoculation, according to the country’s health ministry.
    • The country’s vaccination centers opened on Wednesday.
    • The government plans to vaccinate five million people by March and 15 of its 18 million residents by July.
    • Chile is currently administering the BioNTech/Pfizer and Chinese Sinovac vaccines. It has also signed contracts with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

Go to the next page for news from February 6.

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Current Status

If you live in Vienna, make sure to register for getting a vaccine against COVID-19 under impfservice.wien.  Here you can book your vaccination appointment.

The City of Vienna offers free vaccinations without an appointment to everyone – regardless of citizenship, residency or insurance status – at multiple locations across the city. 

Vienna has reinstated a number of coronavirus restrictions for the fall. The Austrian government has presented a plan for schools and universities.  

Here’s an overview of where you can get tested for COVID-19 in Vienna and how the free 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 publishes 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.