Austrian Lockdown Continues Until January 24

Lifestyle & TravelHealth ♦ Published: January 4, 2021; 21:55 ♦ (Vindobona)

The initially planned "free-testing" to escape the lockdown will not be possible. The opposition parties have resisted this intention by the government, which now means an extension of the current lockdown until January 24. Whether or not schools will return to their normal operations on January 18 has not been decided yet.

Escaping the lockdown via testing is not an option anymore. The lockdown will be extended until January 24. / Picture: © BMI Bundesministerium für Inneres / Alexander Tuma

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober confirmed the speculations that there will be no early "free-testing" out of the lockdown.

Due to resistance from the parties of the opposition, the coalition between Chancellor's Kurz Austrian People's Party and the Green Party lacks the necessary majority in the Bundesrat.

Furthermore, many experts had also been critical of the government's plan to allow people to have themselves tested for Covid-19 in order to escape the lockdown one week early.

Therefore, the lockdown in Austria will last until January 24 for everyone.

Anschober regrets this, but accepts the democratic decision, said the Minister after the meeting of the main committee in Parliament.

It was "put beyond dispute that there is no broad majority in favor of 'free testing'," the minister said after the meeting at the Ministry of Health.

However, there was agreement on the other areas of testing, specifically on the planned tests for certain occupational groups and access tests for cultural institutions.

He said a "joint working process will be started" with the parliamentary groups.

The Health Minister also wants to clarify together with the opposition whether "free testing" should be made possible in certain areas after the extended lockdown.

The extended lockdown will now raise the question whether or not schools will reopen their normal operations on January 18.

Since the extended lockdown does not concern the school range, as the education ministry announced on Monday, the schools might stick to their intial plan of opening on January 18.

However, Anschober said it was not possible to guarantee this planned date.

The return to the classrooms is always dependent on the development of the infection figures, moreover, the minister still referred to the ongoing talks with all parliamentary parties as well as the provincial governors.