Corona virus in Austria: neighboring country becomes high-risk area – mandatory quarantine hits vacationers – politics

Austria has again been classified as a high-risk area by the federal government. Photo: dpa/Barbara Gindl

Outside school, in the powder snow of the Alps – for many children and their families, this wish has actually erupted: Austria, the last neighboring country, will also again be considered a high-risk area in the future. ‘to come up. With corresponding consequences for the winter holidays.

Berlin – Austria’s reclassification as a high-risk area is making it difficult for German holidaymakers to plan their trips ahead of the winter break. The regulation applies from Sunday – and has concrete consequences: Anyone entering Germany from a high-risk area and not fully vaccinated or recovered must be quarantined for ten days and can release themselves no earlier than five days after entering with a negative test.

The decision announced Friday is likely to be a hurdle, especially for families with school-aged children who do not have full vaccine protection. You run the risk that young people miss the start of the lesson again after having fun in the snow and are instead stuck in quarantine at home. In some federal states, the winter holidays begin at the end of January, in others only at the beginning or in the middle of February.

No countries removed from the list

The upgrade due to the high number of corona infections affects almost all of Austria, as the Robert Koch Institute announced. Exceptions to this are the municipalities of Mittelberg and Jungholz near the border, as well as the Riss valley in the municipality of Vomp and Eben am Achensee. This means that Germany’s nine neighboring countries are now on the risk list. Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands have long been designated as high-risk areas.

Besides Austria, more than 30 other countries will be on the list from Sunday, including many in Africa and the Caribbean. In total, nearly 140 of the world’s roughly 200 countries will be on the risk list. No country was removed from the list this time.

Tourism minister fears damage to industry

In addition to strict quarantine requirements, the classification as a high-risk area also includes a travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office for non-essential tourist travel. This makes it easier for tourists to cancel trips that have already been booked free of charge, but does not mean a travel ban.

Countries and regions with a particularly high risk of infection are classified as high-risk areas. However, it is not only the number of infections that is decisive for this. Other criteria are the speed at which the virus is spreading, the burden on the healthcare system and the lack of data on the corona situation.

Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger fears that her country’s reclassification as a risk zone will harm the tourism industry. She criticized German regulations, according to which unvaccinated children under the age of twelve must remain in quarantine for at least five days on their return from Austria – but pointed to a very simple solution to the problem: “Anyone who has been vaccinated can have a safe and relaxing stay at all times Have a holiday in Austria,” Köstinger said.

Stricter mask requirement

Due to the high incidences, a stricter outdoor mask requirement has been introduced at the popular Tyrolean ski resorts of Kitzbühel, Ischgl and St. Anton in Austria. FFP2 masks must be worn in the center of Kitzbühel since Friday. The rule applies until January 23 – the last day of the traditional men’s ski races, which must be held in front of 1,000 spectators despite the high number of crowns.

Similar regulations have been in effect in Ischgl and St. Anton since Thursday. Both locations are in the district of Landeck, where the incidence of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week was recently around 2,900. In the district of Kitzbühel, the value was around 3,400. These regions are thus well above the Austrian total, which was recently heading towards the 1000 mark due to the proliferation of the omicron variant.

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