So it will not be a “summer like it was back then” as the federal government announced a month ago. More like a summer like last year. On Friday, the Frequency Festival was canceled in the last few meters. The district authority did not issue a permit. Exactly such events were addressed at the press conference for the opening in mid-June. “Now there can be the festivals,” said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) at the time. And addressed to the youth: “Now it’s your turn.”
That was meant differently than it came. Because it is the youth who have carried the lion’s share of the infection process since then. It is also the last group to be vaccinated. More than half of all reported infections since the end of June are in people under the age of 25. If you add young adults under the age of 35, the figure is 76 percent. This effect is not only due to the vaccination. In previous waves, too, it was similar that the virus first circulated heavily among younger people before the infection spilled over to older groups.
Night gastronomy in particular, and especially clubs and discos, were therefore largely closed in summer 2020. After all, they don’t have to do that this year, as the government’s crisis meeting on Thursday revealed. Unlike in the Netherlands, the clubs will remain open for the time being, but only vaccinated people and people with a negative PCR test result are allowed to enter. Mückstein originally even wanted a 1-G rule for these epidemiologically sensitive locations. At the press conference a month ago, the health minister said: “I can’t imagine any vaccination requirements for night-time dining.” That too has not aged well.
But Delta caught the rulers off guard, not just in this country. An increase in the number of cases was expected, but more like in the previous year, when the incidence of infections rose steadily but slowly before it tipped over into the second wave in autumn. Until then, they wanted to fully immunize 70 percent or more this year. That should be enough.
Considerable summer wave to be expected
However, the delta variant is likely to be so infectious that, despite the advanced vaccinations, there is likely to be a significant summer wave. The number of cases is currently doubling every week. This explosive increase had already been observed in Great Britain from mid-June, but the alpha variant (B.1.1.7.) Had spread much faster there than in Austria. In the case of Delta, the courses are the same. And even if there are only relatively few serious illnesses among boys and those who have been vaccinated, a very high incidence could endanger tourism, for example, if Austria is classified as a risk area by other countries.
The new regulation for night gastronomy will take effect this coming weekend, specifically from July 22nd. If you want to party in the club, you need a vaccination (three weeks after the first bite), a PCR test or very good connections to the bouncer. In any case, proof of recovery alone is no longer an entry ticket. The regulation that the first cut also applies if it was at least 22 days ago will change on August 15th, if the regulations for the Green Pass are changed. For this, a second vaccination will then be necessary, which is no longer than 270 days ago, or an immunization with a vaccine in which only one sting is intended, currently Johnson & Johnson. This means that when you enter the disco, you must either be fully immunized from mid-August or have a PCR test.
Giechenland vacationers know of course even stricter rules. Lately, even the interiors of restaurants and bars are only allowed to be entered there by people who are verifiably vaccinated. For the time being, the new regulation does not apply to outdoor areas. In Greece, where the corona numbers are also rising again, mainly because of the delta variant, 41 percent of the population over 15 years of age have been vaccinated twice.
Criticism from the countries of the compulsory PCR test
As far as the PCR tests are concerned, the gargle test (“Alles gurgelt”) is established in Vienna and available at a low level, while in other federal states only a few PCR tests are carried out. Nine out of ten PCR tests are currently performed in Vienna. It was planned to expand the gurgle tests nationwide, and a tender for tests, logistics and analysis will run until July 19 at Bundesbeschendung GmbH, but this expansion was aimed at autumn, not as an offer for young people willing to party. The demand in the countries is now likely to rise very rapidly. However, there are hardly any free offers, or only if they are ordered by the authorities.
That is why criticism of the government comes from Salzburg. “Once again, the second step was taken before the first, the states are facing logistical challenges,” says Governor Wilfried Haslauer (ÖVP) ‘s office. In Lower Austria, too, the announcement without a regulation is criticized in the office of the State Health Councilor Ulrike Königsberger-Ludwig (SPÖ).
A broadcast of this newspaper in the federal states shows, however, that the announcement has triggered hectic activity. Vorarlberg promised that free PCR tests would be made available to the population. In Tyrol, a test station for young people is planned in Innsbruck, in Upper Austria, which has been planned for a long time, “Alles gurgelt” will start in pilot regions from next week. Michael Havel in Vienna also called from Carinthia.
Havel, a former cardiac surgeon, is the boss of Lifebrain, the general contractor of the city of Vienna’s “everything gurgles” campaign. The Rewe Group, through which the test kits are obtained and delivered, and the Post as a logistics partner are also involved in this. 50,000 samples are currently being evaluated per day, 120,000 were already there, and it can be scaled to 500,000. Lifebrain also took part in the tender for the nationwide rollout.
Salzburg is considering an adaptation of the Vienna model. “But rural districts like the Lungau do not have a drugstore on every corner to hand in the test,” says Salzburg. Similar to Carinthia, where you see the implementation of the Gurgel action as a “challenge”, as a spokesman says. According to Havel, however, the system can be started up quickly with the previous partners for tests and logistics.
It is still a wait and see in Lower Austria and Styria. A rollout in Styria is “realistically not to be expected before the end of September,” it says.