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Retail in Lower Austria opens on May 3rd

"Easter rest" brought the hoped-for relaxation

Initially, the lockdown in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland was only planned as an "Easter break" over six days, but was then extended to April 18. Because there was no relaxation in sight in the intensive care units, it was extended again - until May 2nd - in Lower Austria and Vienna, while Burgenland reopened trade and service providers close to the body on April 19th.

Lower Austria's governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) now sees the opening as justifiable based on the forecasts and therefore gave the "green light for the opening timetable". That is the result of a situation meeting of politics, economy and medicine on Friday morning. Even if the load on the intensive care units is still high, there is a positive trend, they say.

Hope for a common opening with Vienna

"We are in the situation that the facts and the prospects seem such that we can definitely open on May 3rd," said Mikl-Leitner to noe.ORF.at after the situation briefing. The openings should also take place if Vienna takes a different route and extends the lockdown one more time. Should Vienna not open, there will be talks on how to deal with shopping tourism from Vienna to Lower Austria.

The joint approach in the eastern region was "correct and necessary", the analyzes have shown. She hopes that in Vienna "the situation will ease as in Lower Austria and that Vienna will be able to go along with these opening steps from May 3rd".

Vienna will decide at the beginning of next week

Vienna's Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) did not want to decide until the beginning of next week whether the lockdown should also end in the federal capital on May 2nd. The result is still open, said Ludwig at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

It is important to discuss the further path with experts. He cited incidence figures and the utilization of intensive care units as key figures. The latter "are unfortunately not yet what I would like them to be". However, he also understands the population's desire for opening steps, but makes “fact-based decisions” based on expert discussions - more on this in Ludwig for “cautious opening steps” (wien.ORF.at; April 23, 2021).

The federal government announced opening steps from May 19

A press conference by the federal government followed shortly afterwards. Far-reaching opening steps were announced for May 19. The gastronomy is allowed to open again on this day as well as tourism businesses. Cultural and sporting events should also be possible again under certain conditions. The schools are allowed to return to full operation two days earlier, on Monday, May 17th.

The opening steps are accompanied by strict security measures. The entry requirement will be the “Green Pass”, which identifies a person as tested, vaccinated or recovered - more on this in openings starting on May 19 (news.ORF.at; April 23, 2021).

Economy: "Did our homework"

Before Lower Austria's decision, the current situation was discussed in the morning with representatives from business and the health sector in Lower Austria. The openings would now offer "plannability and calculability for the trade and the body-oriented service providers". Mikl-Leitner said she knew that the situation was currently "unsatisfactory", but now there is at least a perspective.

We are happy that the numbers in Lower Austria have developed that way, said the President of the Lower Austria Chamber of Commerce, Wolfgang Ecker. In any case, the economy “did its homework”, all safety measures would be implemented: “We rely on tests, we rely on the vaccinations that are progressing, we have the hygiene measures in the factories. We can do all of this and we will fulfill what is asked of us. "

The pandemic demands “a lot of patience” from the companies and their employees, stated Jochen Danninger (ÖVP), State Minister for Economic Affairs. The efforts of the past weeks would have paid off. After May 3, openings should also follow in gastronomy and sports.

Crisis: Depression continues to rise

Situation in clinics "tense but under control"

Also for health state councilor Ulrike Königsberger-Ludwig (SPÖ) the opening steps are justifiable, also with reference to other health areas, for example with regard to the increasing psychological stress, "and I am convinced that it is also our responsibility to look." In children and adolescents, for example, mental illnesses have risen enormously, so the openings should be "advocated with an overall view."

Christoph Hörmann, Head of the Clinical Department for Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at St. Pölten University Hospital, said the situation in the intensive care units was "tense, but under control". Nevertheless, one always has to keep virus variants in the back of one's mind, "which are perhaps more infectious or more aggressive," says Hörmann. The average intensive care patient is in the intensive care unit for three to five days, the average Covid patient for three to four weeks, Hörmann noted. There are also always younger patients in the intensive care units.

Intensive care: "The year has been very long"

The aim of the state clinics is "to get back to normal in the hospitals as quickly as possible in order to be able to catch up on postponed operations," said Konrad Kogler, director of the state health agency. The tense situation in the hospitals also places a high burden on the employees.

NEOS welcomes openings: "Necessary and right"

NEOS welcomed the announced opening steps. "After a year of absolute emergency, this perspective is necessary, correct and important for all of us," said state spokeswoman Indra Collini, "but now it must also be about gradually creating this perspective for all other areas - with the goal of one full opening by mid-May at the latest. " Collini spoke out in favor of opening up the cultural and sports area as well as full face-to-face teaching in schools. "