Austria Becomes First EU Country to Start Lifting Coronavirus Lockdown Measures
Austria’s authories have decided to begin easing up the epidemic restrictions immediately after Easter weekend.
As of Tuesday, April 14, Austria is going to start relaxing its lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak, less than a month after the restrictive measures were introduced on March 16.
All public venues except for supermarkets and medical facilities have been closed throughout the country but last week Austria became the first EU member state and the first country in Europe to announce the start of the gradual lifting of the restrictions after Easter weekend.
The announcement by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was welcomed by the media as one of the first sing indicating that Europe was starting to overcome the coronavirus outbreak, DW reports.
The gradual relaxing of the coronavirus lockdown in Austria is set to start with the opening of “non-essential” stores of under 400 square meters as well as hardware stores and garden centers.
Austrian shopping malls and hairdressers are going to reopen on May 1, while restaurants and hotels will have to stay shut until mid-May at the earliest, and public events will not be allowed at least until late June.
People will be still be required to wear face masks in all shops and in public transport. Social distancing and regular handwashing will remain among the top public health measures in the country.
At the beginning of April, there were 504,000 people in Austria who were registered unemployed, an increase by 200,000 alone between March 15 and March 31, the first two weeks of the coronavirus lockdown in the country.
“Every area of the economy has been directly or indirectly affected,” Assistant Professor Birgit Meyer of the Vienna University of Economics and Business is quoted as saying.
“This is just a drop in the ocean to begin with. But it means you can plan with more certainty. It is extremely important for companies and independent retailers to have such a perspective,” she emphasizes, hinting that other European governments would be looking to Austria to see the lockdown could be relaxed while the population could be kept safe.
“There are still restrictions for many businesses. Further, many are dependent on different supply chains and demand from abroad,” says Professor Meyer.
“If other countries don’t follow Austria and slowly begin to open their economies, it will take even longer for the Austrian economy to return to its full potential,” she warns.
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