The city of Vienna has banned access to cultural events and hairdressers, bars and restaurants for people who are not vaccinated against Covid-19, even if they can produce a test that proves they are not affected by the disease. Furthermore, the authorities of the Austrian capital are considering introducing the obligation to swab also for vaccinated people who intend to go to public places at risk, if the epidemiological situation could worsen.
The new measures it should take off over the weekend and could soon be extended to the whole country, where the epidemiological situation is certainly no less worrying. Of the nine Austrian provinces, Vienna has the lowest infection rate, also because it has had the most severe consequences, but it also has the highest rate of intensive care beds with Covid-19, 21%. Hence the decision of Mayor Michael Ludwig not to wait for the government and to introduce the new measures. “It is important for me to make decisions before the intensive care units are full,” he said, not without a polemical reference to the national government’s wait.
In Austria, according to the latest available data, there were over 8,500 new infections per day in a population of 8.9 million people. This is the highest peak reached in all of 2021. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, in the country just over 73% of the adult population has completed primary vaccination, a rate also determined by a strong presence of no-vax. The government has announced that it could introduce measures similar to those in Vienna if the intensive care unit occupancy rate reaches 25%, which will happen next week if the current trend continues. But there is pressure for the executive to act decisively even sooner.
Among the most concerned are the operators in the tourism sector: Germany is considering restricting the travel of its residents to Austria. If this happens, the blow to the sector would be devastating, given that German tourists represent a fundamental share of visitors to the country’s ski resorts.