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

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

Out of school, into the powder snow of the Alps – for many children and their families this wish has in fact burst: Austria, the last neighboring country, will also be considered a high-risk area again in the future. With corresponding consequences for the winter holidays.

Berlin – The reclassification of Austria as a high-risk area makes it difficult for German vacationers to plan their trips before the winter holidays. 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 in quarantine for ten days and can free themselves from it at the earliest five days after entry with a negative test.

The decision announced on Friday is likely to be a hurdle, especially for families with school-age children who do not have full vaccination protection. You run the risk that the youngsters will miss the start of the lesson again after having fun in the snow and will instead be 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 mid-February.

No country 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 communities of Mittelberg and Jungholz near the border, as well as the Riss Valley in the community of Vomp and Eben am Achensee. This means that all nine of Germany’s 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.

In addition to Austria, more than 30 other countries will be on the list from Sunday, many of them in Africa and the Caribbean. In total, almost 140 of the approximately 200 countries in the world will be on the risk list. No country was removed from the list this time.

Minister of Tourism fears damage to the 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 trips. It 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.

Austria’s Minister of Tourism Elisabeth Köstinger fears that her country’s reclassification as a high-risk area will harm the tourism industry. She criticized the German regulation, according to which unvaccinated children under the age of twelve must remain in quarantine for at least five days when returning 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 any time Spend a vacation in Austria,” said Köstinger.

Stricter mask requirement

Due to high incidences, a stricter mask requirement outdoors has been introduced in the popular Tyrolean ski resorts of Kitzbühel, Ischgl and St. Anton in Austria. FFP2 masks have had to 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 are to be held in front of 1000 spectators despite the high corona numbers.

A similar regulation has been in effect in Ischgl and St. Anton since Thursday. The two places are in the Landeck district, where the incidence of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants and week was recently around 2,900. In the district of Kitzbühel, the value was around 3400. These regions are thus well above the Austrian total, which was recently heading for the 1000 mark due to the proliferating omicron variant.

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