Austria’s government will impose a second “partial lockdown” for November, forcing restaurants to close but allowing the retail and services sector to remain open. A night curfew from 8pm will also be implemented. EURACTIV Germany reports.
On Saturday afternoon, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) confirmed that Austria will enter a second lockdown from Tuesday for the month of November to get a grip on the rapidly increasing number of new daily rate of COVID-19 infections currently averaging about 5,000.
The situation in Austria has deteriorated “almost explosively”, Kurz told a press conference on Saturday, adding that “dramatic interventions in our social life” are thus needed. According to Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens), the capacity of intensive care beds could be reached by mid-November if the spread of the virus is not drastically slowed down now.
Restaurants closed, trade open
Though this second lockdown will only apply until the end of November, restaurants will have to shut their doors but can still do takeaway and deliveries.
While all recreational facilities, such as sports and cultural facilities, will also have to close, hotels will no longer be allowed to offer overnight stays, except for business trips.
The government will also give businesses that are forced to close 80% of their November 2019 income if they keep their employees, and will also extend the country’s short-time work programme. Finance Minister Blümel (ÖVP) estimates this will cost about €1 billion.
However, retail trade and service providers (hairdressers or nail studios) will remain open. Office jobs, too, will continue, but in full “teleworking mode”.
To ensure education continues as parents have less pressure, compulsory schooling and kindergartens will remain open. Upper secondary schools and universities, however, will have to switch to having their classes entirely online.
Curfew and smaller meetings
Furthermore, the government will impose a curfew from 8pm to 6am, during which people may only leave their homes in case of danger, or to provide assistance, cover basic needs (such as buying food) or go for a walk.
Only a maximum of six people from a maximum of two households may meet, though the police are still not permitted to access private housing. Yet, all events are prohibited, except those of a professional nature.
The country will be gradually reopened in December as long as the lockdown bears fruit.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]