Politics

“Many people are already wuggi”: Now the first easing is coming

ÖGB boss Wolfgang Katzian endorses crown tv an opening of trade, body-friendly service providers “and soon also the inns”. Katzian: “Many people are already wuggi because they have been locked up for so long.” The financial worries would also increase. Some would lose their reserves, others would slide below the poverty line. All in all, it is “a cocktail that is not good for a society,” says Katzian.

Economy is pressing

Urgent voices are also rising in the ÖVP. “If the scroll bars do not go up soon, many will remain closed forever,” is the unanimous warning tone from the business community. In fact, the lockdown phase has been going on for a long time. Gastronomy and hotels have been closed since November 2nd.

Long lockdown phase

From November 17th to December 7th, there was a tough lockdown, which also meant trading. During these three weeks, the number of infections was reduced from 9,000 to 2,000 per day. From December 8th, retail was allowed to reopen until Christmas, but everything has been closed again since Christmas. It will be six weeks until February 7th.

From January 25, lockdown measures were even tightened: Politicians reacted to the emergence of more contagious virus variants with an FFP2 mask requirement and an increase in the distance to two meters.

Is the goal too ambitious?

Currently, the daily new infections fluctuate between 1300 and 1500, the 7-day incidence is 108. The ideal prerequisite for easing is: a 7-day incidence of 50 and no more than 700 new infections daily.

Austria is a long way off from that, but doubts are now growing as to whether this goal is not set too ambitiously. If it seems unreachable, the population will not support the measures, which means that a lockdown will not work.

On the other hand, there is still insufficient research into how much more contagious virus mutations have spread in this country. Therefore, a careful compromise is emerging before the Monday consultations:

The schools should open from February 8 in the east, but February 15 in the west and south.

The trade should be allowed to open from February 8, but under strict conditions. FFP2 masks will be required and the new distance of two meters will probably also apply.

Body-hugging service providers such as hairdressers are also allowed to unlock under strict conditions. A certain mandatory test should also be introduced for them.

For restaurants and hotels it doesn’t look good. You have to keep waiting for an opening.

Vaccinations stall

The timing also depends on the speed of the vaccinations. So far, 212,000 people have been vaccinated, but the process is stalling due to supply shortages. The Ministry of Health is currently in the process of adapting the vaccination schedule to the reduced delivery quantities.

Before the start of the consultation, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober let it be known: “On Monday we will consult with experts on how we can create openings very carefully and in a controlled manner without taking too high a risk.”

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says that the deliberations on Monday will not only take into account the infection situation, but also “the social and economic situation”. A “complete relaxation” would be slowed down by the mutations, said the Chancellor.

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