Kurz also addressed those who think that the elderly, the risk groups, should be locked away so that the young can live normally. Apart from the fact that this would not work in practice, the Chancellor emphasized: “We do not want to be a society like that” – and again appealed for cohesion.
When asked when this will all be over, Kurz sticks to his prognosis: He assumes that there will be a vaccine soon and that normal life will be possible by summer 2021. “We have a very difficult time ahead of us,” he said. And: “We can, must and will survive this time together.”
With his video message, the Chancellor agreed to the nationwide tightening, which will be discussed in a video conference with the state governors on Monday. In essence, as already indicated, it should be about restrictions on social life.
Measures that individual countries have already taken could be extended to all of Austria. The West is seen as a role model here. The KURIER gives an overview of what is possible:
1. Earlier curfew in catering
Three weeks ago, the three western federal states of Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg moved the curfew to 10 p.m. The success of this measure is questionable: Currently, Salzburg and Tyrol are the countries with the highest numbers of new infections in relation to their population.
The opposition argues that partying is moving to the private sphere. Even Salzburg’s governor Wilfried Haslauer (ÖVP) recently said about the Hallein district: “The private sector is massively affected.” There is still no meaningful data on how many infections actually happen at parties that have been pushed out of the public nightlife.
Nevertheless: The curfew could be fixed throughout Austria – the target is reportedly after 11 p.m. The Länder can of course set an earlier one. It is unclear whether this only applies to the catering industry or also to the hotel industry. In Salzburg and Vorarlberg, hotel guests can sit in hotel bars until 1 a.m.
2. Registration obligation for guests in restaurants
Vienna was the first federal state to introduce mandatory registration in September – as a counter-model to the earlier curfew. In Lower Austria, the compulsory registration in districts with an orange traffic light has been in effect for two weeks. Before the weekend, Salzburg and Tyrol followed suit – in addition to the earlier curfew. Upper Austria follows on Tuesday.
It is said that there is still too little experience on how helpful registration really is for contact tracing. It is therefore questionable whether a nationwide requirement is really necessary at this point in time.
3. Events only with a fixed seat
Salzburg and Tyrol have also massively restricted the range of events. Only events with registered seats are allowed, for a maximum of 250 people (except with special permission).
Salzburg has also banned private parties in cellars, garages and barns and wants more control. Funerals are only allowed in Salzburg and Tyrol with a maximum of 100 participants. In Lower Austria, strict maximum numbers only apply when the traffic light is orange.
Nationwide, the number of visitors to events is now to be massively reduced. Details are still being negotiated. For the cultural sector, the number of visitors is decisive for whether the businesses stay open at all.
4. No more serving at events
What the federal government should also learn from Salzburg and Tyrol is the ban on serving at events. When selling food and drinks, especially at sporting events, queues and crowds of people would form – a ban would make sense, according to negotiators.
5. Duty to completely cover your mouth and nose
A ban on face shields, especially the much criticized chin shields, has been in the room for a long time. It is now considered a duty to completely cover your mouth and nose – and only a mask can do that.
The mask requirement could also be extended to parts of the public space where there are many people.
Looking for a common line
And what is the mood like in the run-up to the meeting? Chancellor Kurz phoned representatives of the federal states on Sunday in order to “probe”, they say. One strives for a common line.
Vienna’s mayor Michael Ludwig will participate with the reinforcement of City Councilor for Health Peter Hacker (both SPÖ). Both are against the earlier curfew and argue that it has done little in the West so far.
In Carinthia, where the number of infections in relation to the population is currently lowest (and so is the need for tightening), people continue to insist on “regional, targeted measures”. However, nationwide rules will be supported, provided that analyzes show that they are needed, according to the office of Governor Peter Kaiser (SPÖ).