The Rules of Austria’s Second “Hard” Lockdown

In response to surging case numbers, Austria re-entered full lockdown on Tuesday, Nov. 17. These rules apply until Sunday, Dec. 6.

The federal government has presented the rules for the country’s second “hard” lockdown. The shutdown, which will be similar to the one in the spring, began on Tuesday, Nov. 17 and is expected to end on Sunday, Dec. 6.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) stated that the government aims to reopen stores and schools for students up to age 14 on Monday, Dec. 7.

General rules

  • People should not leave their homes. Exceptions include:
    1. Going to work.
    2. Helping others.
    3. Buying essentials (food, etc.).
    4. Seeking healthcare.
    5. Administrative reasons.
    6. Religious service.
    7. Physical activity.
  • Shops, stores, personal services, and hotels must close.
    • Only grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, post offices, agrarian and animal food stores, electronic shops, gas stations, dry cleaning, and bike and car repair shops will remain open.
    • Opening hours are 6:00 to 19:00.
  • Schools and universities will switch to “distance learning.” Kindergartens and elementary schools will continue to offer childcare for families that need it.
  • Firms must work from home if possible.
  • Sports facilities, including ice rinks and race tracks, must shut.
  • Restaurants, bars, and pubs will remain closed. Only takeaway is available until 20:00.
  • Public church services will be cancelled.
  • In-person events are not permitted.
  • Affected stores will receive between 20% to 60% of their lost revenue.
  • Restaurants will be reimbursed by “80% of their revenue from the same month in the previous year,” if they keep all their employees on the payroll.
  • Kurzarbeit (short-time work program) will again be extended and expanded, to safeguard jobs and viable businesses.
  • Industry, manufacturing, and health clinics will remain open.

“Meet Nobody! Each Social Contact Is One Too Many!”

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) called on all Austrian residents to keep their social contacts to an absolute minimum. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) similarly urged people to stay at home to “save lives.”

  • People are only permitted to spend time with people in their household, their partner, or a “single close or important” contact.
    • Individuals who live alone may choose one person to meet.
  • The police can fine people with up to €1,450 for not following these regulations.

Day-time Curfew

The government has extended the nightly curfew (Ausgangsbeschränkungen) to the entire day.

  • A stay-at-home order will be in effect.
  • In general, people should not leave their homes, unless they have a specific reason for doing so.
  • Such reasons include:
    • Danger.
    • Familial responsibilities, such as caring for sick or old relatives.
    • Taking care of animals.
    • Purchasing essential items (food, toilet paper, etc.).
    • Professional reasons if necessary.
    • Physical and mental relaxation.
    • Administrative reasons.
    • Religious reasons, such as individual prayers or visiting cemeteries.
  • Failure to follow these rules will result in fines.
  • The police will be on the look out, but Kurz said that they will not be everywhere. Therefore, he urged, “The stronger we unite, the shorter the lockdown!”

Hospitals and Nursing Homes

  • Each week only one visitor will be allowed per patient. This only applies to patients that have been at the facility for more than seven days.
  • Exempt are:
    • Pregnant women, they can be accompanied by one person during appointments and birth.
    • Children who are under age, who can be accompanied by two people.
    • Disabled people can also be accompanied by two individuals.
  • Hospital employees will be required to get tested for COVID-19 once a week.
    • If they test positive, they can still work if they do not show symptoms for 48 hours or their CT value is under 30.
    • If there is a shortage of tests, caregivers and health workers are required to wear a high-quality masks when they come in contact with patients.

Economic Measures

The social partners have reached an agreement with Labor Minister Christine Aschbacher (ÖVP) about the new rules for the Kurzarbeit (short-term employment) scheme.

  • Employees of places that have been ordered to close according to the newest corona measures can reduce their working hours to 0.
  • Employees earn up to 90% of their income and are guaranteed their job.
  • Kurzarbeit can be requested for a maximum of six months.
  • The prerequisite is that employees have been employed since October.
  • People who are already on the short-term employment scheme do not need to reapply.
  • Employers can only request Kurzarbeit for their employees if they guarantee the jobs.
  • Stores that are required to close will receive between 20% and 60% of last year’s revenue, depending on the sector.
Benjamin Wolf
Benjamin studied Journalism, History and International Affairs. After stints with Cafébabel in Paris and Arte in Strasbourg, he is now working as managing editor and COO for Metropole in Vienna. Fields of expertise are politics, economics, culture, and history.Photo: Visual Hub

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