The new chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) positioned himself as a new kind of head of government in his first press conference on Tuesday. In a friendly and measured tone, he emphasized the importance of dialogue and approaching opponents of the government and the corona measures.
“Dialogue must never end. The offer to talk must always be available,” he said.
“The coronavirus has imposed a lot on all of us (…) some already feel overwhelmed”, he said. It was necessary to change the language and move from being against each other to being together, said the new chancellor. “We are a society”. The virus was the enemy, the virus was what was limiting freedom and killing people, said Nehammer, using very different wording than before. As interior minister, Nehammer was often exceedingly harsh about people who opposed the virus prevention measures. At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, he said that those who stuck to the rules were “lifesavers” and those who did not “endangered lives”. As chancellor, Nehammer appears to be showing a different face.
The thousands of people who took to the streets to protest against the government and its corona restrictions were not all of the same opinions, he said. Many of them had “fears and concerns,” and he wanted to react to these as head of government. “The virus should not be the millstone around the neck of the Republic”.
The new chancellor Karl Nehammer has affirmed that the coronavirus lockdown will end on the coming weekend for people who are vaccinated. “The opening will take place”. It was only a question of how.
Aside from shops, Nehammer also confirmed that bars and restaurants, hotels, and other sectors would reopen. The only thing that was still unclear was what kind of security measures were needed.
Nehammer said that the provincial governors agreed to a three-week lockdown ahead of time. Now there was a positive tendency, with declining infection numbers, which the government wanted to make into a positive trend. They would proceed as cautiously as possible, said Nehammer.
He repeated previous comments from Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens), who said that the state would continue to distinguish between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The lockdown was due to continue for the unvaccinated.
About the mandatory vaccine, Nehammer said it was a “shame” that it was necessary. “If we were like other European countries, with vaccination rates of 90 percent, we would not have to think about it”, he said. “Unfortunately,” it was necessary for Austria.
Reported in cooperation with the Austrian Press Agency / APA.