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.
Here is a wrap-up of the measures currently in place in Austria, as they were announced, and information about the situation in general.
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:
- United Kingdom
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
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.
- 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
As of today, July 13, 2020, the situation in Austria according to the Ministry of Health is as follows:
People tested: 700,616
– of which in Vienna: 187,002
Daily tests: 3,876
Confirmed cases: 18,849 (+60 cases (+0.3%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 4,226
Active cases: 1,245 (+3 cases (+0.2%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 394 (+7 cases (+2%) since yesterday)
Total hospitalized: 82 (-2 case (-1.2%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 28
In intensive care: 8 (-2 case (-20%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 4
Recovered: 17,000 (+48 cases (+0.3%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 3,694
Deceased: 706 (+/-0 cases (+/-0%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 200
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).
The City of Vienna has compiled comprehensive information on questions and answers regarding coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease 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.
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 🖖!