Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Austria begins deconfinement

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At a press conference on Monday, April 6, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the gradual lifting of restrictions in the country. The first reactions are positive.

“This Easter week will be a decisive week.” This is how Chancellor Sebastian Kurz opened his press conference on Monday, April 6, late in the morning. After reacting “Faster and more drastically” than other countries, he said, Austria is moving towards easing measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 – “As soon as the population plays the game”, highlighted Die Presse.

A further assessment of the situation will be made at the end of April to take stock, the chancellor announced, and to outline prospects for the summer.

A return in stages to normal (or almost)

Concretely, wearing a mask remains compulsory (it becomes so in supermarkets and public transport from this day on, and at the workplace it is subject to consultation between management and staff), social distancing remains the rule, social (or family) contact remains reduced, and it is recommended that people at risk not to go out and work remotely, summarizes the Viennese daily newspaper.

The reduction in the free movement of people (as in France, but without a certificate) is extended until the end of April. The easing measures will come into effect in successive stages.

In the area of ​​trade and services, small shops (not exceeding 400 m2), DIY and building materials stores and garden centers will be able to open from April 15; all other shops and hairdressing salons, from 1er may ; hotels and restaurants, possibly in mid-May.

In the field of education, the bac and professional diplomas will be held by the end of the semester, and classes will not resume until mid-May.

No cultural or sporting event will take place before the end of June.

National parks and gardens will reopen on April 7. Sports establishments and fitness centers remain closed.

Resurrection and good resolutions

“After Easter, [c’est] the resurrection of Austria “, throw Der Standard, while Kurier talk about a “Light at the end of the tunnel”. “Even if the return to normal is still far away” and “Even if we still don’t know if the government’s strategy is the right one”, comments on Viennese daily life, “Hope that Chancellor Kurz is right”.

Compared to other countries, Austria displays a relatively favorable situation in the face of the pandemic, recognizes Kurier, but much remains unclear about its short-term evolution. If the absence of worship until the end of June is considered particularly harsh, it does not exclude a reflection on the imperatives of “the phase after”.

For the center-right newspaper, it will be necessary both to stop distributing money and to put an end to the rhetoric of the sacred union. “Competition laws, both economic and political, are suspended, they are not removed.”

Danièle Renon

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