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Coronavirus: Foreign Office warns against traveling to Vienna

Georges Schneider / Xinhua via Getty

Because of the increased number of new corona infections, the German federal government has declared the Austrian capital Vienna a risk area. The federally owned Robert Koch Institute (RKI) published an updated list of corona risk areas on Wednesday, in which the state of Vienna is now listed as the only risk area in Austria.

The central criterion for classification as a risk area is in which states or regions there have been more than 50 newly infected people per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days. Usually shortly after the classification as a risk area, a corresponding travel warning from the Foreign Office follows.

A travel warning goes further: although it is not a ban, it is intended to have a significant deterrent effect. However, it also has a positive side for consumers: it allows travelers to cancel bookings free of charge.

Sacher boss: “The situation couldn’t be more dramatic”

Against this background, the new assessment from Berlin is a heavy blow for the city tourism that is important and already ailing for Vienna. As a result of the Corona crisis, for example, the traditional Hotel Sacher fired 140 employees at its locations in Vienna and Salzburg on Tuesday. In Vienna alone 105 employees are affected. “A situation couldn’t be more dramatic,” said Sacher boss Matthias Winkler. Sales at Sacher in 2020 will be only 25 percent of the previous year (around 100 million euros). Next year it would be “maybe 30 to 35 percent,” says Winkler. He reckons that international tourism will take four to years to recover.

According to Austria’s Minister of Health Rudolf Anschober (Greens), celebrations in family or friends are responsible for the persistently high number of new corona infections in the entire Alpine republic. The country is in a crucial phase, said Anschober on Wednesday.

Austria is well ahead of the trend in Germany

The prognoses differed significantly. The more positive variant predicts a daily increase of around 650 cases, more pessimistic variants assumed 1,500 new infections daily. 768 new cases were recorded on Wednesday. The number of occupied hospital beds is also beginning to increase noticeably, said Anschober.

With this development, Austria is well above the trend in Germany. Taking into account the number of residents, the number of infections in Austria is a good three times higher. 3,600 of the currently around 6,600 active cases in Austria are reported from Vienna. Switzerland had therefore already put the Austrian capital on the list of risk areas.

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