With cases and hospitalizations rising, Europe is in the throes of a second coronavirus wave. We’ve compiled a detailed overview of the situation in Austria’s neighbors and elsewhere in Europe, including a brief analysis and current countermeasures
With daily new infections tripling in the last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration is still debating a more unified approach with individual federal states. Overall, Austria’s northern neighbor still has a better grip on the pandemic than almost any other country in Europe, but restaurants and bars in particular are unhappy with new restrictions.
- 1.5 meters minimum distance between people.
- Time-specific outdoor gatherings allowed for a maximum of five persons from more than two households – to be determined by regional authorities.
- Masks are mandatory indoors, on public transport, at railway stations, airports and demonstrations with over 100 participants
- Different regulations in every federal state
Daily new infections (24hr): 6,868
Active cases: 72,643
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 47
One of the earliest and hardest to lock down, Slovakia is still managing the COVID-19 situation well so far. Recently, Bratislava announced their plan to test all citizens with rapid antigen tests – faster and cheaper, but less reliable – on two weekends in October.
- All public events are banned except for weddings, baptisms and funerals, with a limit of one person per 15 square meters indoors and 2-meter distance outdoors.
- Retail shops are open, but limited to one person per 15 square meters
- Eateries and bars may only serve beverages and food outdoors (e.g. on a terrace) or to go; Mandatory 22:00 closing time.
- Dedicated shopping hours at grocery stores for the elderly from 9:00 to 11:00 in the morning
- Performance spaces, swimming pools, saunas, water parks, gyms and wellness centers are all closed
- Masks MUST be worn both indoors and outdoors, except in nature.
Daily new infections (24hr): 860
Active cases: 23,298
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 4
Austria’s northwestern neighbor handled the pandemic well in spring, but was caught on the wrong foot by the virus’s second wave. Dithering on the part of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’ administration led to high numbers of new infections recently, occasionally exceeding 10,000 daily in a nation of 10 million.
A 500-bed field hospital is now set up on Prague’s fairground and 4,000 new hospital beds have been ordered – as a buffer for a further expected rise in cases. On October 5, a state of emergency was declared, and Czechia has entered a second “partial” lockdown.
- Wearing face masks is mandatory indoors and in public transport as well as any event, regardless of the number of people attending.
- School will be closed on October 26 and 27, as this will be followed by a public holiday on October 28 and a short autumn holiday.
- Visits to medical and social facilities are banned, with some exceptions.
- Bars, restaurants and many shops were ordered to close until November 3.
- Citizens are asked to stay at home as much as they can.
Daily new infections (24hr): 8,077
Active cases: 113,219
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 91
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán closed the borders on September 1, a measure that was just extended and will remain in place until November 1. Exceptions apply for commuters and people who can supply a valid reason for traveling. Infection numbers still spiked and now hover around 1,400 new cases a day; observers have criticized that the government is not testing enough.
- 1.5 meters minimum distance.
- Face masks mandatory when shopping, on public transport, in taxis, waiting rooms, theaters, cinemas and shopping malls.
- Restaurants, cafés, bars, and hotels remain open, but employees must wear face masks. Eateries and bars must close at 23:00.
Daily new infections (24hr): 989
Active cases: 32,909
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 38
Seven out of twelve Slovenian regions are partially locked down due to rising coronavirus infections. The southeast, Ljubljana, Zasavska, Gorensjska, Poskavska, Koroska, and Savnjska are under quarantine and can only be left for essential activities.
- Maintain a safe distance by staying at least two meters away from others.
- Covering the mouth and nose and frequent disinfection are mandatory in all enclosed public spaces, public transportation and any open space where it is impossible to maintain two meter distancing.
- The Government has temporarily limited the number of people allowed to gather in public spaces.
Daily new infections (24hr): 794
Active cases: 7,709
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 3
Switzerland’s otherwise excellent healthcare system has been severely tested by the coronavirus. The country’s decentralized system initially proved to be a hurdle in the spring, leading to 1,800 fatalities – triple the rate of similarly sized Austria.
After a relaxed summer with some restrictions, new infections now run as high as 2,800 per day. However, casualties and hospitalizations are relatively stable so far.
- Mandatory facemasks indoors and on public transport.
- Gatherings of more than 15 people in public areas are not permitted. Eateries and bars remain open, but may only serve food and beverages to seated customers.
- Large scale events with over 1,000 attendants must have a cantonal permit and fulfill safety guidelines
- Cantons can compel public and private hospitals to make room to treat COVID-19 patients.
Daily new infections (24hr): 8,932
Active cases: 29,422
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 15
As the principality is working closely with Switzerland, numbers have remained relatively stable.
- In coordination with the Swiss government, travelers bound for Liechtenstein from high-risk countries must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
- Wearing of masks compulsory on all public transport.
Daily new infections (24hr): 3
Active cases: 92
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 0
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is counting on the help and cooperation of his fellow Italians to avoid another nightmarish scenario like last spring. Future lockdowns to prevent the worst are already being planned for troubled regions like Campania and Lombardy, where the current outlook is beginning to look grim.
- Social distancing of at least 1 meter between people.
- Face masks are mandatory at all times – indoors and outdoors.
- Dance halls, discotheques and similar premises are shut down.
- Indoor and outdoor parties are banned. Civil or religious ceremonies are allowed for no more than 30 people, as long as they comply with current protocols and guidelines.
- Any form of assembly is forbidden.
Daily new infections (24hr): 9,337
Active cases: 142,739
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 73
Elsewhere in Europe
The Polish government has presented its coronavirus record as a shining example, cheerfully contrasting it with many Western European countries’ worse experience – but recent events have started to put this into question.
New infections have rose steeply in mid-September, from around 500 a day to between 6,000 and 8,000 cases. Poland now plans to convert Warsaw stadium into a temporary COVID-19 hospital for the expected rise in hospitalizations.
- 1.5 meters minimum distance between pedestrians.
- Facemask outdoors and indoors, including buses, trams, trains and even cars – if you are driving with somebody you don’t live with.
- Within both yellow and red zones, the number of audience members at an indoor cultural event may not exceed 25% of the venue’s capacity; the same applies to cinemas. Covering the mouth and nose is obligatory.
- Within the red zone, the number of persons on public transport at the same time may not exceed: 50% of the seating capacity, or 30% of the combined seating and standing capacity, leaving at least 50% of seats in the vehicle unoccupied.
Daily new infections (24hr): 7,482
Active cases: 92,862
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 41
Marseilles, Paris and seven other major cities have introduced early curfews. President Macron has shown himself confident, promising financial aid to stabilize the economy. Meanwhile, France is currently hit hardest in Europe by the second wave, with between 10,000 and 30,000 new cases daily in recent weeks.
- Grenoble, Paris, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint-Etienne, Rouen, Montpellier and Toulouse have curfews for at least the next 4 weeks, lasting from 21:00 in the evening to 6:00 in the morning.
Breaking curfew will only be authorized via a special permit:
- For work or travel to or from work
- For health reasons
- Offering help to someone in need
- Transport (trains or planes – you will need to show a ticket to break curfew)
- Walking your dog
- Restrictions in the rest of the country have also tightened, with all private parties – including weddings – banned in public spaces. Local authorities may take additional measures to prevent outbreaks
Daily new infections(24hr): 12,944
Active cases: 790,021
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 146
Preparing for the second wave while still reeling from the highest death toll in Europe, the UK’s situation seems to be getting out of hand with infection numbers skyrocketing again and experts suggesting a “circuit breaker” lockdown of two weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented a three-tier system of regionalized restrictions to keep the tattered economy alive, which has already suffered through the first wave and Brexit.
Local COVID alert level: medium.
- No groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors (unless a legal exemption applies)
- Customers may only consume food and drink while seated
- Weddings and funerals can go forward with limited attendees
Local COVID alert level: high.
- No socializing with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
- No groups larger than 6 outside (unless exempted by law)
Local COVID alert level: very high.
- No socializing with anybody you don’t live with or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting, private garden or most outdoor venues and ticketed events.
- Pubs and bars are closed; they can only remain open if they serves substantial meals, and may only serve alcohol with food.
- Places of worship remain open, but mixing households is not permitted.
- Wedding receptions are banned.
- Restrictions preventing the sale of alcohol, eateries are closed (except takeaway and delivery).
- Entertainment venues and tourist attractions are closed.
- Public buildings such as libraries and community centers are closed (youth and childcare facilities and support groups remain available).
- Personal care and close contact services stay shut; highest-risk activities are prohibited.
Daily new infections(24hr): 21,331
Active cases: N/A
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 80
Hard hit even after its long lockdown, Spain is yet again dealing with some of the highest new infection numbers during this second wave – although, fortunately, fatalities are not yet as high as in spring. Madrid and eight other cities are under limited lockdown schemes, with citizen only allowed to do essential tasks.
- The capital’s 3 million residents will not be allowed to leave their homes except for work, school, shopping or medical care.
- All bars and restaurants must close earlier than usual and reduce their seating by 50%.
- A maximum of six people are permitted to meet in any setting.
- Parks are closed.
Daily new infections(24hr): N/A
Active cases: N/A
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): N/A
Bucharest and 11 other Romanian cities have exceeded their case threshold, making them red areas. The country is experiencing its highest spike since the beginning of the pandemic and is growing increasingly concerned.
- Outdoor cafés and clubs are closed from 23:00 to 6:00 in the morning.
- “Protection masks” must be worn indoors, including public transport and religious sites where people cannot practice social distancing as well as within 50 meters of schools. County-level authorities will determine which areas are subject to the requirement.
- Private indoor events can accomodate no more than 50 people; outdoor events no more than 100.
- Fines for violating face mask requirements, quarantine or home isolation rules, movement restrictions, or restrictions concerning indoor gatherings, concerts, meetings, cultural or religious events.
Daily new infections (24hr): 2,466
Active cases: 45,863
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 59
Due to safety risks, Serbia is making it harder for multinational commuters to enter and leave – not including its semiautonomous federations.
- ublic gatherings involving more than 30 people are banned.
- No more than one person per 4 square meters is allowed indoors.
- Face coverings are required in all indoor locations, as well as outdoors when physical distancing is not possible, like waiting in line to enter stores or at bus stops. Face masks are recommended outdoors.
- Visits to hospitals are banned.
- Visits to senior citizen homes are limited to 15 minutes.
- The recommended distance between people outdoors is 1.5 meters.
- Cafes, clubs, and restaurants can only operate until 23:00.
Daily new infections (24hr): 326
Active cases: 4,292
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 2
Despite counting over 1,000 infections on some days, Austria lists this nation of 4 million as generally safe, and the Istria region is even a green zone. But Croatia is still preparing for future challenges, with St. Catherine’s Specialty Hospital introducing quick COVID-tests.
Wearing protective masks is mandatory throughout the country, including:
- Retail employees and customers in stores.
- Employees and clients where face to face contact is required, such as banks, post offices, governmental services, public notaries, currency exchanges, etc.
- All services that require close contact (hair dressers, etc.).
- Drivers and all other staff in public transit, as well as passengers.
- All employees that serve and prepare beverages and food.
- All guests at all restaurants and bars, except while sitting in their seats and consuming food or beverages.
- All health care workers and visitors to hospitals.
- Employees in offices where physical distancing of at least 2 meters cannot be ensured
- All persons attending religious ceremonies and gatherings indoors.
- Spectators at indoor sports events.
- All indoor gatherings.
- Other persons who have special instructions from the National Public Health Institute.
Daily new infections (24hr): 393
Active cases: 5,519
Covid-19 deaths (last 24 hours): 11
A new tide, a new stride
While the lates infection rates are frightening, statistics also show that the number of patients hospitalized or dying from the disease is still significantly lower than at their previous peak in spring. This is partly due to the massive under-detecting of active cases in March and April – some estimate there were up to ten times more cases than reported.
While Austria has seen a steep rise in cases recently with per capita numbers now well exceeding Germany, the situation still seems more stable than in other countries in the region. The number of hospitalizations may slightly exceed those in spring, but the number of patients in intensive care stands at half the springtime record while fatalities – while slowly on the rise – are also significantly lower.
More hygiene measures, early testing, contact tracing as well as better treatments and drugs have also contributed to a lower death toll during this second wave. Alas, with a long winter ahead, the outlook is uncertain – for Austria and the region.