Corona-related exit controls have started in the two Lower Austrian districts of Wiener Neustadt-Land and Neunkirchen. Corresponding ordinances came into force at midnight. “It is randomly checked at the district exits,” said police spokesman Raimund Schwaigerlehner on Thursday of a procedure analogous to that in the city of Wiener Neustadt. There have been exit controls there since March 13th.
Additional executive forces are being drawn in from other districts, the security academy and the state traffic department, explained Schwaigerlehner in an interview with the APA. If there are delays, these will be minor, according to the police. “We saw it in Wiener Neustadt: the population is very cooperative and has the necessary tests with them. Accordingly, there are very few waiting times,” said the spokesman for the state police department of Lower Austria.
The ordinances provide for a general exception in terms of test evidence for a limited period up to and including (today) Thursday. There should be reports of violations from Friday. In the south of Lower Austria, a high incidence area with 80 municipalities and more than 209,000 inhabitants is now forming. The regulations became necessary because the seven-day incidence in the regions was at least one week above the threshold of 400, which is relevant according to the Ministry of Health.
Seven-day incidence of 427.8 in Wiener Neustadt
Journeys between Wiener Neustadt and the Wiener Neustadt-Land district are now possible without controls. According to the town hall, there are checkpoints in the direction of Burgenland, the Neunkirchen district, as well as at the motorway access roads and at the train station.
The value of 400 was exceeded eight times in a row in the district of Wiener Neustadt-Land. On Wednesday afternoon, the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) dashboard announced a seven-day incidence of 427.8. The Neunkirchen district was above the relevant threshold seven times in a row; the current value was 508.4. The Neunkirchen district thus held the leading role in the state. Wiener Neustadt followed in second place with 471.4.
Industry criticizes measures in the east
Representatives from industry and trade warn of a risk to production from the tightened Covid measures announced yesterday evening in eastern Austria. “An excessive FFP2 mask requirement inevitably leads to production downtimes in all industries, including food,” warn Renate-Scheichelbauer-Schuster, WKÖ chairwoman for trade and crafts, and Siegfried Menz, chairman of the Federal Industry Section in the Chamber of Commerce.
“Employees are much better protected at their workplaces than at home,” said the industry representatives. Corona clusters are “not recognizable” in their areas, and many large companies have set up their own test roads. FFP2 masks should be worn “where it makes sense and is feasible,” emphasized Scheichelbauer-Schuster. The regulation makes the prescribed mask break for the companies “an almost insoluble organizational challenge”.
Menz even spoke of a “mask dance”. “We would need 20 percent more specialist staff. Since this staff cannot be found in the short term, production cuts by a fifth would be inevitable,” he warned in a broadcast.
Criticism also from sales representatives
After the Eastern Summit, criticism also came from trade representatives. Rainer Trefelik, chairman of the federal trade division, yesterday called for an entry test for the entire trade, including the food sector, which has so far been excluded. This would lead to a higher test rate from which the other retail sectors could also benefit. “That would be a sign of solidarity,” said the trade chairman on Wednesday evening. The trade association said that the trade closings would be ordered “against any scientific evidence”.
The trigger for the displeasure of the trade, trade and industry representatives is the result of yesterday’s “Eastern Summit”, according to which there will be a strict lockdown from April 1st to 6th and then entry tests for shops – apart from the grocery and pharmacies – will be introduced. However, many questions are still open and some of the requirements must first become legally binding. The three governors Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP), Michael Ludwig and Hans Peter Doskozil (both SPÖ) and Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) took part in the Eastern Summit of the states of Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland.
The trigger for the tightened measures is the – long predicted by experts – dramatic increase in Covid diseases and the resulting high occupancy of the hospitals. Yesterday, the authorities reported 3,289 new infections, the number of patients in intensive care units rose by ten to 447 people within 24 hours. (apa)