One year after the first corona cases in Austria: the day it all began
On February 25, 2020, the first infections with corona virus were confirmed in Innsbruck. A chronological look back at when it all began.
The chronology shows what developments and measures there have been since then:
February 26: The last direct flights between Austria and China are discontinued.
February 28: The Corona hotline starts at 1450, people with symptoms are tested at home. Ministry of Health sets up “task force.”
March 10: WHO declares Covid-19 a pandemic.
Larger events (500 participants outdoor, 100 indoor) are banned, university operations and entry from risk areas are restricted.
March 12 (410 cases since onset, seven-day incidence 4.1): first Corona death reported.
March 16 (1,224 cases, incidence 12.1): With 200 to 300 new infections daily, Austria enters the first lockdown: the apartment may only be left for going to work, medical appointments, basic care, assistance and outdoor exercise – with a minimum distance of one meter to household strangers. Stores that do not serve basic needs are closed, as are restaurants, cultural, recreational and sports facilities, and playgrounds.
Events are prohibited, with a maximum of five people allowed to meet. School/university classes and regular kindergarten activities are suspended, parents are granted special childcare leave. Companies are to switch to home offices, the short-time work model is extended. Authorities restrict party traffic, religious communities forego church services, weddings and baptisms. Police crack down on enforcement. In retrospect, the Constitutional Court overturns much of this as unlawful.
March 18/19: Entry restrictions are tightened, border controls expanded. The government increases economic aid (“at any cost”). Tyrol quarantines all municipalities until April 5 and closes its borders. Most provinces ended the ski season early and closed hotels.
March 20 (2,908 cases, incidence 26.0): the lockdown is extended until Easter Monday. Rehabs, spas, and thermal baths close; visits to hospitals and nursing homes are largely prohibited.
March 30 (9,910 cases, incidence 57.9): government announces further measures.
April 4: Hotels
Hotels and other lodging establishments are officially closed (until April 24) throughout Austria.
April 6: Supermarkets may now only be entered with mouth/nose protection.
April 8: The number of intensive care patients peaks at 267.
April 14 (14,384 cases, incidence 16.6): First relaxations: Small stores, hardware stores allowed to open, federal gardens open. Masks are compulsory in stores and on public transport. Entry restrictions for family members or life partners are eased somewhat.
April 17: Easing in the health sector: doctors’ offices are allowed to reopen, regular hospital operations slowly ramp up.
April 18: Seven-day incidence falls below 10.
May 1 (15,555 cases, incidence 4.1): next relaxation: some of the popular sports venues lock up. Meetings of up to ten people in public spaces are permitted (with one meter spacing). Stores with more than 400 square meters of sales area, hairdressers and beauty salons are also allowed to unlock – masks are compulsory, from now on in all enclosed public spaces.
May 4: First school relaxations: Matura students and graduating classes return to schools after seven weeks of distance learning. Visits to senior citizens’ homes are permitted again.
May 15: With an average of 50 new infections daily, “new normality” returns: Under strict security conditions, restaurants (until 11 p.m. at the most) and museums open, and religious services are allowed again. The first border controls are relaxed.
May 18: Second school relaxation: elementary schools and lower grades return to regular operation after nine weeks – but with divided classes, no gym classes and masquerade outside their own place. Offices resume party traffic.
May 20: The number of hospital patients drops, only 37 people need intensive care; 687 Corona-positive people have died since the outbreak of the pandemic.
May 29 (16,615 cases, incidence 2.4): The first lockdown largely ends. By Whitsun, hotels, campgrounds, refuges are allowed to reopen, as are recreational facilities such as pools, gyms, spas. Small cultural events, even weddings and funerals with up to 100 people are allowed. In public spaces generally applies one meter minimum distance and indoor masks mandatory.
June 3: Third school relaxation: upper secondary schools and vocational schools return to face-to-face teaching – albeit in shifts.
Border controls end.
June 4: Border controls with neighboring countries (except Italy) end, no more testing/quarantine required.
June 5: The situation has calmed down: 429 people are currently infected, 75 in hospital, 20 of them in intensive care units, the seven-day incidence is 2.3. Since the beginning, there have been 16,843 positive test results, 672 Corona deaths have been counted, 15,742 recovered. Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Green Party) is “very optimistic that there will not be a second wave in Austria.”
June 15 (17,104 cases, incidence 2.3): With 20 to 30 new infections per day, the mask requirement is largely dropped. Only in public transport, in the health sector and in services close to the body (hairdressers, waiters) is mouth-nose protection necessary, not in schools or stores.
Bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open until 1 a.m. and more than four people may sit at a table. AUA resumes scheduled air service (severely restricted) after three months.
June 16: Travel restrictions between most EU countries (including to Italy) fall.
July 1: The numbers rise to about 100 new infections per day (incidence 5.3), clusters occur again and again. Measures are nevertheless relaxed: all sports, including team sports, are allowed.
Waiters do not have to wear masks, and there is no curfew for events with up to 100 people. For cultural and sporting events, 250 people are allowed indoors and 500 people outdoors (with assigned seating).
A travel warning (with testing/quarantine requirement) is imposed for Western Balkan countries.
July 6: For the first time since May, more than 1,000 people are actively ill, but only 78 in hospital, ten in intensive care units. The government relies on testing and contact tracing.
July 9: Travel warnings are extended to more Balkan countries. Upper Austria reverts to mandatory masks in public spaces, stores and pubs.
July 24: The situation worsens; there are usually well over 100 new infections every day. Masks are again compulsory in food retail outlets, supermarkets, healthcare facilities, banks and the post office.
August 17: Travel warning for Croatia, Vienna offers free tests for people returning home.
Aug. 31: New infections rose to 300, incidence above 20. Since inception, there have been 27,559 cases and 764 Corona-positive deaths. Chancellor Kurz puts tightening measures on the agenda.
September 1: Far more spectators are allowed for cultural and sporting events: 5,000 indoors, 10,000 outdoors.
September 2: The government recommends that people keep their distance and wear masks – and that no more than 25 people should gather in private.
September 4: The Corona traffic light starts on green, with only four yellow regions (Vienna, Linz, Graz and the district of Kufstein) – and arguments about criteria and consequences.
September 14 (34,429 cases, incidence 49.7): New infections jumped to over 900 in some cases.
The government takes the population lightly: masks are compulsory for all commerce, gastronomy (hospitality only at the table), museums, recreational facilities (for example, indoor swimming pools), all customer contact.
Events are restricted (50 visitors indoor, 100 outdoor or with assigned seating 1,500/3,000). Mask must be worn outside of class at school.
September 21: With nearly 40,000 cases (and 796 deaths), the government tightens the screw a bit more: Privately, only ten people are allowed to meet indoors; in restaurants, guests must also wear masks.
September 25: Gastro curfew 10 p.m. in the three western federal states.
September 28: In Vienna, guests in the catering trade have to register. Subsequently, Tyrol, Salzburg, Upper Austria and Vorarlberg as well as Lower Austria (for “orange” districts) also take this measure.
October 2 (47,629 cases, incidence 59.4): For the first time, more than 1,000 new infections are reported within 24 hours; 836 Corona-positive persons have died.
October 15: Corona traffic light shows red for the first time, in four counties. Some states improve protections for nursing homes and homes for the elderly and call for federal tightening.
October 19: Situation worsens, new infections move toward 2,000 daily, 800 Covid-19 patients are in hospitals, 145 in intensive care units. The government announces tightening measures.
Oct. 22: For the first time, there are more than 2,000 (2,435 to be exact) new infections and more than 1,000 Corona deaths. Twenty-five counties have red lights. Medical experts warn of supply bottlenecks.
October 23: Health Minister Anschober hopes to prevent the second lockdown by appealing for personal responsibility. The first federal states sound the alarm that they are reaching their limits in contact tracing.
October 25: Seven-day incidence rises above 200, with nearly 3,000 new infections reported daily. Slight tightening of rules: only 1,500 outdoor/1,000 indoor visitors are allowed at events, with mask and fixed seating.
Otherwise, only a maximum of six adults are allowed indoors (also per table in the restaurant) and twelve outdoors, and 100 at funerals. The one-metre distance requirement (repealed by the Constitutional Court) comes back into force, and masks are compulsory in all public spaces, public transport, bus stops and train stations, as well as when visiting homes.
Germany issues a travel warning for Austria.
October 27: The virus spreads rapidly; for the first time, more than 4,000 (4,382) new infections are counted in one day; around 30 Sars-CoV-2-positive people die every day. Virologists warn: the situation in hospitals is worrying, more than 200 have to be treated intensively. Anschober sees Austria “far away” from a second lockdown.
October 30: More than 100,000 tested positive
since the beginning, the seven-day incidence rises to over 300. All of Austria is at red in the traffic light, i.e. highest risk. Intensive care units become more and more crowded, government announces “partial lockdown”.
November 3 (127,842 cases, incidence 404.9): “Lockdown light”: trade and personal service providers remain open, also elementary schools, lower schools, kindergartens.
But there are curfew restrictions (with known exceptions) between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., only two households are allowed to meet, garage and garden parties are prohibited.
Gastronomy (except take-away and delivery service), recreational facilities, theaters, museums, cinemas and hotels (for tourists) are closed. Distance learning for high schools and universities. Visits to hospitals and homes are limited.
Nov. 7: More than 150,000 Corona positive since onset, seven-day incidence at 500, more than 50 Covid-19 patients dying daily. Health care system is scraping capacity limits.
Nov. 17 (222,622 cases, incidence 537.5, about 90 deaths daily): second “hard” lockdown: commerce and service providers (except primary and health care) must close.
Curfews around the clock, contacts limited to meetings of an individual with closest caregivers.
All schools on virtual distance learning, events banned, sports and recreational facilities closed, no church services, weddings, baptisms.
December 2: Government sees critical care overreach averted and announces relaxations.
Dec. 7 (292,022 cases, incidence 316.4, more than 100 deaths daily): lockdown goes “light” again: curfew only at night, daytime meetings of two households of six allowed.
Commerce, personal service providers (hairdressers et cetera), museums and libraries open. School lower grades (with mask for children over ten) and kindergartens go into regular operation.
Outdoor sports (without physical contact) are allowed.
Food service, hotel and cultural operations remain closed – and Christmas markets are banned.
December 18 (335,023 cases, incidence 193.2): The figures improve, but are still too high, with around 2,000 new infections and over 80 deaths daily.
The government announces the third hard lockdown.
December 19: Strict entry restrictions come into force: ten days of quarantine after crossing the border, but not until the fifth day.
December 24/25: Christmas exception: A maximum of ten people from up to ten households are allowed to celebrate together (without nightly exit restriction), without one-meter rule and mask obligation also in garages or garden huts. Ski lifts and gondola lifts are allowed to open (permanently), but winter vacations are not allowed (hotels are closed), only day trips.
December 26: Third complete lockdown: with 351,471 Corona-positive individuals (since inception) and an incidence of 152.6, outgoing (around the clock, with known exceptions) and contacts (only a single individual with another household) are again severely restricted.
Retail (except basic services and new “click and collect”), personal service providers, museums, libraries are closed, schools are in distance learning after the vacations. Cultural, gastronomic, accommodation, leisure facilities remain closed.
Sports in outdoor facilities (cross-country skiing, ice skating) with ten square meters per person is allowed – also skiing including lift. Distance and mask obligation in public places, at the workplace, in public transport. No masses, weddings, baptisms, funerals with a maximum of 50 people.
January 25: FFP2 masks mandatory in public transport, trade, etc. and two metres distance instead of one. Violations are subject to fines of 25 and 50 euros, respectively. As of January 8, the fine will be raised to 90 euros.
February 1: With still 1,100 newly infected persons (after the weekend) and an incidence of 106, the government announces the return to lockdown light.
As of February 8, elementary school students have “normal” classes again, and older students attend classes in shifts – with mandatory regular testing. Commuters will also need such a test in the future.
Retailers are allowed to open (with FFP2 obligation and 20 square meters per customer), as are museums and libraries, zoos – and service industry. A test is required for going to the hairdresser et cetera.
Things get a little looser with contacts, too: Four people from two households are allowed to meet – but only during the day. Curfew remains between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Source: Der Standard.