In the past few days, there has been increasing speculation in the media that the obligation to wear masks in Austria could be reintroduced. The background to this is the recent increase in the number of corona infections and the associated fear of a second wave. Now the federal government has announced appropriate measures in a joint press conference with Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober and Interior Minister Karl Nehammer.
Where the corona mask has to be worn
Accordingly, the corona mask requirement in supermarkets as well as in bank and post office branches will apply again from July 24, as the government announced at the press conference. According to Interior Minister Nehammer, the “house rules” apply: If a customer does not wear a mask, the supermarket can refuse entry. If there are further disagreements, the police can intervene.
The rules for the places where the wearing of MNS masks was already mandatory, as Health Minister Anschober explains: These include public transport, events in closed rooms, specialist and public fairs as well as pharmacies and service providers. Public transport is currently being checked more closely, and in some cases fines are being imposed.
Penalties for breaking quarantine
Speaking of penalties: Interior Minister Karl Nehammer also mentioned in the context of the press conference that checks are carried out to determine whether an imposed quarantine is actually being observed. According to this, compliance with quarantine measures has been checked 56,000 times and penalties have been imposed 260 times.
According to Nehammer, breaking the quarantine is “not a trivial offense”: If the person is not infected with the coronavirus, the fine is 1450 euros. If the person is verifiably infected, there are also measures from the criminal code.
Corona traffic light for regional corona clusters
At the press conference, the government also announced the introduction of a corona traffic light system that can be used to identify regional clusters of the pandemic. Building on this, it should be possible to take regional measures. The basis for this is probably the Complexity Science Hub card, which is currently available in an international version in addition to the Austrian one.
According to Anschober, the summer council of ministers next week will decide on the criteria according to which the corona traffic light will be created. In addition, a “Corona Commission” will be established to take responsibility for the traffic light system. There will be a trial run in August; in addition, guidelines are being developed on how to proceed in the event of a regional outbreak. In September the legal basis is to be created so that Austria has a “fully functional traffic light system” in autumn.
Increased corona controls at the borders
According to Kurz, one problem is the introduction of the coronavirus from abroad, especially from the countries of the Western Balkans. Accordingly, border controls are being tightened and quarantine measures are being checked more closely. From Friday, entry from risk areas is only allowed with a negative PCR test. The test must come from a certified laboratory.
There is also an increasing number of infections among religious communities with reference to the risk areas. Therefore, the services are reduced here, masks are also to be worn.
The press conference from July 21. as a live stream
Current coronavirus numbers in Austria
On July 21st at noon it was loud official dashboard of the Ministry of Health 1,373 active corona cases, a total of 19,758 people have tested positive for the virus so far. Most of the people actively suffering from Corona are currently in Upper Austria (496), followed by Vienna (449).
96 normal beds and 16 intensive care beds are currently occupied. There are still 9750 normal beds and 785 intensive care beds available. The number of people suffering from Corona has therefore risen again in recent weeks, but there are still enough beds available.
According to the government, however, the current measures are intended to counteract a possible second wave. In this context, Anschober emphasizes again that the pandemic is advancing worldwide: The WHO forecast of March 2020 that Covid-10 is the worst pandemic in around 100 years is confirmed.
Briefly in Brussels: EU Corona rescue package
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had already indicated an expansion of the mask requirement last week due to the recently increased corona numbers. Last, however, he stayed in Brussels to decide on the EU Corona rescue package together with the other heads of government. It is assumed that the EU will repay the resulting debt by 2058.