AIn Austria, too, the head of government felt that the time had come to address the population directly with a video message. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in the recording broadcast on Sunday that it “is up to us all” to prevent a second closure of public life. “The situation in Austria is serious.”
Kurz demanded that people should reduce social contacts on their own initiative, and avoid celebrations, large private gatherings and parties. Otherwise threaten in the interaction of Corona-Pandemie and the onset of the flu wave, a situation in which the Austrian hospitals are reaching the limits of intensive care capacities. The Chancellor referred to the neighboring country, the Czech Republic, where this situation was already foreseeable.
While the government in Vienna has so far tried to use a “Corona traffic light” to take flexible measures from region to region, further restrictions can now be expected for the entire country. The “traffic light” system did not meet the publicly stoked expectations that there would be indisputable criteria and inevitable consequences. At the end of last week, four districts were switched to “red” for the first time, but none from Vienna, although most per capita infections are measured in this state.
Now there is speculation about curfew or registration obligations in restaurants, as they already apply in some federal states, in others not. In any case, the heads of the conservative-green coalition have scheduled a video conference with the governors of the nine federal states this Monday, after which the “Corona Quartet”, well-known from the spring (Chancellor Kurz, Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober and Interior Minister Karl Nehammer) educate the public.
Austria recorded 1,672 new infections within 24 hours on Sunday, twice as many as in the same period a week earlier. On Saturday, a “record value” of 1747 new infections was reported, which is also in absolute numbers more than at the peak times in spring. The country is not even doing particularly badly in the second wave of pandemics in comparison with most European countries. But not particularly good either.
For the government in Vienna, it is an uncomfortable admission that you can no longer claim a head start, as Chancellor Kurz in particular had often and gladly done himself since the spring. He had placed his country in a group proudly called “smart countries”, which had been particularly successful in containing the virus.
This also included New Zealand, which, thanks to its island location, was able to defend this designation and whose government was able to convert this into an electoral success, but also Israel, which already had to go into a not very smart second lockdown, and the Czech Republic, where coronavirus issues Numbers have now reached a sad record.
Politically, the right-wing populist in particular tries FPÖto use the topic for yourself. Badly hit by the affairs of her former chairman Heinz-Christian Strache, she suffered a severe defeat in the state elections in her former stronghold of Vienna a week ago, where she fell from 31 to seven percent of the vote. Now the FPÖ vice chairman, the former interior minister Herbert Kickl, attacked the government sharply: With a “test tsunami” it had increased the number of corona-positives and artificially shortened hospital beds, so that Kurz was now “unscrupulous in the country the next lockdown ”.
A possible motive for this destructive alleged plan of the Chancellor offers Kickl not on, but it cannot be ruled out that it may hit a nerve in part of the corona-tired population. On the one hand, the tourism industry, which in Austria can be viewed as systemically relevant, is looking with horror towards a winter season that is largely in danger of being lost. On the other hand, through contradicting easing and closing steps since the summer, the government has gambled away some of the political credit it had earned in spring through a united demeanor and clear communication.