Austria is discussing new restrictions: short-term corona measures are over, but now the fourth wave is striking
Sebastian Kurz announced the corona pandemic as a private matter in July. In Austria, government measures are as good as finished. Germany’s neighbor is now being hit by the fourth wave. Was a nun?
There were scenes the likes of which have not been seen in Austria or Germany for a long time. At the end of August, almost 1,500 people gathered in St. Pölten, the Netherlands, for a party conference of the ruling Austrian VP. Delegates, journalists and guests of honor sat close together. Speakers shook hands, kissed each other’s cheeks. The crowd at the food stand and at the coffee bars was great. Hardly anyone wore a mask.
Criticism of the ÖVP party congress: “Was a superspreader event”
Even in the media that are more friendly to the ruling ÖVP or reject the Corona measures, criticism was raised. “The party conference was a super-spreader event,” annoyed journalist Karl Wendl from the ÖVP-related news portal “OE24” during a discussion on the television channel “ServusTV” – where corona conspiracy ideologues are also allowed to appear.
But the man who the whole event was aimed at could not have cared about the criticism so far. Not only was ÖVP Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, himself diligently shaking hands and giving piss, confirmed with 99.4 percent in the office of party leader. In addition, his special decision in July has not taken revenge – until now.
Ten schnitzel and seven liters of wine
In July, Kurz had unceremoniously declared the state’s corona measures to be over. If someone is infected with the virus now, that is a private matter, said the Chancellor in a round of interviews with the editors-in-chief of various Austrian daily newspapers. had meanwhile been enough time to finally get vaccinated. Or as Kurz claims: “The crisis is being redimensioned. It is changing from an acute challenge for society as a whole to an individual medical problem. “
After all, the Chancellor illustrated with a particularly Austrian example, the citizen could also eat ten schnitzel a day, drink seven liters of wine or climb the rock face with 140 kilos without the state standing below and securing the rope. The consequence: Almost all corona rules have been abolished, protective measures only still exist for special facilities such as schools. And for everything else there is the 3G concept (tested, recovered, vaccinated), like at the party congress in St. Pölten.
Greetings from Bavaria
But now, almost two months later, the brief announcement could prove to be premature. Thanks to the delta mutation, the number of new infections every day in Austria more than tripled within a few weeks, from 3300 at the beginning of August to 10,000 at the beginning of September. The number of occupied intensive care beds in the clinics is also skyrocketing. According to media reports, the first clinics are already canceling routine operations in order to free up capacity.
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The situation is not yet acute, even in the hotspot of Lower Austria, “only” 53.8 percent of all intensive care beds are occupied. But the trend is worrying, the increase is happening at a breakneck pace. Is it now true, had the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) written his Austrian colleagues in the friendship album? “Corona has the basic problem that I not only protect myself, but I also have to protect others,” said Söder in July. The fight against the virus therefore remains “in the public interest”, it is not a “purely private risk for the individual”.
“A very concrete plan”
Now Austria is again discussing something that has long wanted to know: new corona restrictions. He already has a “very specific plan” for autumn, said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein from the Greens last week. Like their German counterpart, the Austrian Greens are considered cautious in dealing with Corona, the brief announcement from July did not meet with approval from the coalition partner. In public, Mückstein is already proposing the reintroduction of the mask requirement inside, a strict “1G rule” should apply to particularly intimate events such as parties: Only those who are vaccinated are allowed in.
The plan has already been submitted to the Chancellery, said Mückstein, and it should be discussed intensively on Wednesday. Then the government in Vienna consults with the so-called provincial governors, in the Austrian version of the German federal-state meeting. And Kurz himself? He did not want to commit to specific measures in a detailed television interview on “ServusTV” on Sunday. But they will react before the health system becomes overloaded.
The Chancellor wants to avoid a new lockdown with all his might, but he did not want to rule it out either. Nevertheless, the situation is now different from last year. “With the vaccination we are back to normal”, but the Austrian vaccination quota is not yet sufficient. 59.2 percent of all Austrians are currently fully vaccinated. Briefly, therefore, they were also open to the “1G” solution. Because: “Before we close the night catering completely and no one can go, I prefer that only those who have been vaccinated are allowed to go.”
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