Austrian Government Announces Drastic Measures on Coronavirus

Lifestyle & TravelHealth ♦ Published: March 10, 2020; 16:42 ♦ (Vindobona)

In the fight against the coronavirus, the government has announced drastic measures for the first time. Entry ban from Italy, partial suspension of air and train traffic, cancellation of events, suspension of teaching at universities and technical colleges.

Further measures against the spread of the coronavirus - some of them with considerable restrictions - were announced today. / Picture: © BKA - Bundeskanzleramt Österreich / Federal Chancellery of Austria

The measures against the spread of the coronavirus will cause massive disruption to public life in Austria in the coming weeks.

"Due to current developments, we are forced to implement several measures in order to contain the further spread of the coronavirus in our country as far as possible", said Federal Chancellor Kurz at a joint press conference in the Federal Chancellery with Health Minister Rudolf Anschober and Interior Minister Karl Nehammer. 

The number of infected persons in Austria is still comparatively low, but in some European countries there are already high growth rates.

In addition, the number of fatal cases was also increasing rapidly. "The mortality rate for coronavirus diseases is 10 to 30 times higher than for influenza," emphasised the Federal Chancellor.

Stop of entry for people coming from Italy

The measures currently planned had already been prepared the week before, and dealing with Italy's high level of exposure would play a major role.

"Therefore, we have decided on an entry stop for people from Italy and a repatriation for all Austrians from Italy", said Kurz.

There would be exceptions for those entering the country with a medical certificate.

The returnees from the neighbouring country would be subject to a two-week quarantine.

The measures have already been agreed with Italy.

Reduce social contacts as much as possible - Teaching at universities and universities of applied sciences will be discontinued - Companies to switch to home-office work

A further area of action concerns the containment of the spread of the disease within Austria, which will in particular result in restrictions for larger events.

As of Monday next week, universities and universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen) are not to hold any courses and are to switch to an online offer instead.

"Wherever possible, I urge Austrian companies to switch to teleworking for their employees", the Chancellor appealed.

"However, the most important contribution can be made by each and every one of us by all trying to limit social contacts as much as possible in the coming weeks," continued Kurz. This is an important step against the spread of the disease, he said, especially in order to protect older people. "In this sense, I am addressing my biggest request to all people in Austria to make their contribution to society. We cannot prevent the virus from spreading further in Europe, but we must make all preparations to contain and delay the spread as much as possible", said the Federal Chancellor.

Cancellation of events

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober explained the planned measures in terms of events.

"Outdoor events with more than 500 participants must be cancelled, indoor events with more than 100 people must also be cancelled."

This will apply from Wednesday until the end of April.

The Minister of Health also appealed that the contribution of each individual is important and that the recommended hygiene measures must be observed.

An information campaign on the details of the measures is planned.

Air and train traffic between Italy and Austria affected

Interior Minister Karl Nehammer informed that Italy is currently subject to travel warning level 6 and that air and rail traffic to the neighbouring country will be discontinued as a result.

In addition, border controls are planned and entry is only possible with a valid health certificate or 14 days of isolation.

There would be exceptions for freight traffic.