CoV on Feb. 7-14 | No Further Opening Steps Expected

The coronavirus is shaping our lives. Here’s what happened concerning COVID-19 in Austria in the week from Feb. 7-14.

February 9

  • The Austrian government announced official travel restrictions for Tyrol.
    • Travels from Tyrol to other places in Austria are now only allowed with a negative coronavirus test not older than 48 hours.
    • The measure will enter into force this Friday, February 12.
    • The region of Osttirol (Eastern Tyrol) is exempted from this measure, as it is physically separated from the main part of Tyrol.
    • Tyrol is one of the European centers of the spread of the so-called South African variant of the coronavirus (B.1.351).
      • The variant has shown to partially circumvent the immune response of people who already had the “wild type” of the coronavirus or certain vaccines (mostly vector vaccines).
      • The mRNA vaccines have so far proven to be effective also against this new strain.
      • The variant B.1.351 was probably introduced to the federal states by Tyrolean hotel owners who made a golf trip to South Africa during the last lockdown.
    • “We need to do everything we can to prevent the spread of this variant; if we can’t, we need to slow down the spread,” chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) said in a press conference.
    • The federal government declared Tyrol for 10-days as “travel-restricted area” (Sperrgebiet) – the government also issued a travel warning for the state.
    • The police will control people who want to travel from Tyrol elsewhere on the federal state’s borders.
    • In Tyrol, 293 cases of the B.1.351 variant have so far been confirmed. In all other Austrian states, another 9 confirmed and 9 suspected cases of the variant are known.

  • Austrian ministries reported 1,197 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The 7-day-incidence fell to 102 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total13,3461,5932858,071
Daily change-216+22+7+39
In percent-1.6%+1.4%+2.5%+0.5%
Daily Tests*RecoveredTested Positive
Total36,047404,676426,093
Daily change+36+1,374+1,197
In percent+0.1%+0.3%+0.3%
*daily tests refers to reported PCR tests, rapid antigen tests are not included
Vaccine Jabs Given
Total307,357
Daily change+/-0
In percent+/-0%
Percentage of population3.45%

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, February 9, 2021.

News From Austria

  • Doctors who registered for a vaccination on the Vienna Medical Chamber homepage over the weekend could choose between AstraZeneca and the more effective Biontech vaccine.
    •  Health Minister Anschober emphasized in January, with reference to the scarce quantities, that a choice of vaccine was not intended though.
    • At present, it is planned that only people under 65 years of age will be vaccinated with AtsraZeneca doses.
    • Patient Advocate Spokesman Gerald Bachinger criticized that persons with medical professions had received an above-average amount of Biontech vaccine, which could have been used for high-risk patients.
    • Thomas Szekeres, president of the Vienna Medical Chamber, told “Wien heute”:”Depending on age, you either get the AstraZeneca vaccine up to 65 or the Pfizer vaccine over 65.”
    • In fact, younger physicians also signed up for the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine.
    • In Salzburg, there was a protest by practicing doctors against the AstraZeneca vaccine.
    • 7,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are to be used in Viennese hospitals and in the vaccination street in the Messe to healthcare workers up to 65 years old.
    • So far, only the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine has been used in Vienna.
  • Vienna is planning a new model to contain the pandemic. From Mondays to Thursdays, there will be no lockdown and even restaurants will be allowed to open.
    • The idea is to open shops and pubs from Mondays to Thursday evenings, adhering to FFP2 mask-, 20 square meters per customer-, and minimum distance regulations.
    • The closing hours for restaurants could be 20:00, 21:00 and later even 01:00, respectively.
    • There will be a hard lockdown on the rest of the week. Except for supermarkets, pharmacies and the like, most things would again be closed.
    • The idea could be implemented at the end of February at the earliest.
  • For almost 450,000 students in Vienna and Lower Austria, school started again yesterday after the semester break.
    • Approximately 280,000 of them had the chance to attend face-to-face classes again after weeks of distance learning. The requirement for this was a CoV test.
    • There were 32 positive self-tests in Vienna and 24 in Lower Austria.
  • Police and tourism associations shall, at the request of the Salzburg State Government, carry out further checks on second residences.
    • It is assumed that ski tourists are circumventing the accommodation ban despite lockdowns.
    • Over 38 charges were filed against illegal renters last week.
    • Around 80 violations of CoV measures were detected by police officers last week during almost 400 checks at accommodations in Styrian ski regions.
    • Also for the current semester vacations in the province, the executive announced increased controls.

News From Elsewhere

  • The EU Commission has placed an order with Biontech/Pfizer for an additional 300 million doses of CoV vaccine.
    • The Brussels-based agency yesterday finalized a second deal to that effect with the 2 companies, a Commission spokesman said.
    • EU Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen had already made the deal public on Jan. 8.
    • Back in Nov., the EU Commission had ordered up to 300 million doses of vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer for all 27 states – a firm order for 200 million doses and an option for 100 million more.
    • In total, the EU can now purchase up to 600 million doses of vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer. The product was the first CoV vaccine to be licensed in the EU on Dec. 21.
  • The British government is once again tightening its travel regulations in the coronavirus pandemic.
    • In addition to a negative coronavirus test on arrival, people entering the UK will in future have to submit 2 further tests during a 10-day quarantine period.
    • This was announced by the Ministry of Health in London today.
  • The Dutch government has extended the nighttime curfew in the CoV crisis until March 2.
    • “This is necessary because new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus are on the rise in the Netherlands,” the government announced after a cabinet meeting yesterday.
  • Israel and Greece plan to allow tourism for vaccinated people during the crisis.
    • Representatives of both countries agreed to allow vaccinated citizens to travel between the states without conditions as soon as flight restrictions are lifted.
  • For the first time in more than 3 months, the so-called 7-day incidence in Germany is below the threshold of 75, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
    • The number has been falling for several weeks. The policy goal is a 7-day incidence of less than 50 in the long term; in Austria, the figure is 104.3.

Go to the next page for news from February 8.

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.

Numbers

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

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.