Over the weekend, motorists waited in traffic for hours (in some cases up to 12 hours) at the border between Austria and Slovenia, after a regulation that took effect on Saturday (22 August) required travellers to either sign a declaration that they will drive through the country without stopping or, if they intend to stay in Austria, fill out a longer form with personal information.
Despite the delays, Austrian officials intend to hold firm on the new border control policy.
Peter Kaiser (SPÖ), the governor of the southern state of Carinthia, apologised to motorists for “this unpleasantness” in an interview with the Ö1 Morgenjournal on Monday (24 August). With the new rules coming as a surprise to some, he cited communication issues between Austria’s federal government and the states but refused to assign blame, saying “all sides” need to improve.
The new regulations are in line with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s (ÖVP) rhetoric in recent weeks. He has called for stronger border controls, claiming that the virus is coming into the country “by car”, pointing to travellers coming from the Balkans.