Salzburg The Austrian state reports an incidence of 1719 and imposes a lockdown on Thursday. The situation in the full clinics is dramatic. The Austrian government followed suit on Friday and announced a lockdown for the entire country.
“It was really nice until October,” says Harald Kratzer, “but now it’s tearing everything away from us again.” The manager of the traditional Salzburg restaurant Sternbräu sits in the empty lounge of his house at lunchtime. 58 Christmas parties were booked, 53 of which were recently canceled. Kratzer wishes for Salzburg what is communicated a day later: “We now need a complete lockdown.” This is the only way to slow down the corona infections, which are currently dying in parts of Austria. This is the only way to have a “somehow more normal Christmas”, as Kratzer puts it.
In view of the dramatic Corona numbers across the country, there will be lockdown for everyone in Austria from next week. In addition, a mandatory vaccination will be introduced from February, announced Federal Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg on Friday.
It was only on this Monday that a lockdown for unvaccinated people had actually begun in Austria, who were only allowed to die to go shopping or to leave the house for other reasons. Now the restrictions are being extended to vaccinated people. In addition, cultural establishments, restaurants and shops except for supermarkets and pharmacies are to be closed, as reported by the Austrian broadcasting company. After ten days, the situation is to be reassessed.
Only on Thursday did the federal states of Salzburg and Upper Austria announce a lockdown for everyone. This should have started on Monday and lasted “several weeks”, said the Upper Austrian Governor (Prime Minister) Thomas Stelzer. He and his Salzburg colleague Wilfried Haslauer had long blocked it, as did Austria’s new Federal Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg (all ÖVP). According to Haslauer, the lockdown will apply to the entire population and all areas and will “last three, more likely four weeks” and depend on the development of the vaccine. So it may end before Christmas. Schools are also affected, they have to close.
Obviously there was no other way. In Salzburg, the seven-day incidence of infected people per 100,000 population jumped from just under 1094 to 1719 on Thursday within a week. The clinics are at their limit. Austria had already decided on new restrictions at the beginning of the week: The 2G rule – vaccinated or recovered – gold-plated in large parts of public life, the only exceptions are grocery stores, pharmacies and the like. And there is a curfew for those who have not been vaccinated: They are only allowed to leave the apartment to go to work, to buy groceries and to relax in the fresh air.
“People can’t buy clothes, not to the cinema, not to the café, that’s tough,” said Karl Schupfer, press spokesman for the city of Salzburg, describing the situation. Schupfer says one sentence over and over again, almost pleadingly: “We’re not giving up.” The team of 80 employees observes the contacts of the infected, “we’re now two days behind”. They control the “segregated”, as people in quarantine are called in Austria. “Everyone quickly adheres to it,” he says.
What is the current state of society in Salzburg? “People’s stress level is high,” says the spokesman. “Many react exaggerated to Klein in everyday life, they are becoming more and more aggressive.” Politicians have to act somehow. But: “Alleged certainties are suddenly no longer.” And Schupfer also sees “the fear of making wrong decisions”.
All of this has parallels to Germany. Is Austria two or three weeks ahead of the Federal Republic? The number of stubborn vaccine opponents should be about the same. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) and other pandemic fighters are currently leaving new rules that hardly anyone understands in their entirety. Restrictions for vaccinated and convalescent are disproportionate, it is emphasized again and again. Austrian politicians discussed the topic in the same way until recently. “The plans for triage in the hospitals are really shocking people,” observes Harald Kratzer from the Sternwirt. Triage – this is the medical disaster. It is the decision as to which intensive care patients get a required bed and which not when they are scarce. Often times it is a life or death decision. The clinics in the state of Salzburg have named a team of six to determine this if necessary. So there has never been anything.
The intensive care physician Barbara Friesenecker from Innsbruck has been dealing with the problem of triage for a long time. The decisive point is: “Who has the highest chance of survival?” It’s not about things like: Which corona patient is vaccinated and which is not? And what do you do with other sick people after a heart attack or stroke? A vaccination opponent could possibly also be given priority.
The streets and alleys of Salzburg’s old town are already unusually empty. Glittering Santa Clauses and angels are on display in Getreidegasse, but nobody is in the shops. Half of the Christmas market is set up on Residenzplatz, and nobody can say whether a punch or a sausage will be sold there this year.