In Austria, the provinces of Salzburg and Upper Austria have announced that they will impose a general lockdown from next week due to the threat of overcrowding in hospitals. Until now, the "lockdown for the unvaccinated" has applied there as in the other regions. This has not proved sufficiently effective to bring about an immediate improvement in the situation. Clinics in the two states have sounded the alarm and in some cases made preparations for triage decisions.
Whether corresponding measures will be taken for all of Austria is to be decided this Friday at a meeting of the government with the provincial governors. So far, the chancellor's party, the ÖVP, has resisted subjecting even vaccinated persons to restrictions. The Greens, with Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein, on the other hand, are demanding just that, in order to achieve a reduction in contact that virologists consider necessary.
Now, however, the two ÖVP state governors from Salzburg and Linz, Wilfried Haslauer and Thomas Stelzer, have stepped forward. In their states, the Corona situation has gotten out of hand. Salzburg's governor Haslauer, in particular, had opposed closures just a week ago and polemically accused virologists of "preferring to lock everyone up".
The governor of Upper Austria, Stelzer, announced on Thursday morning that he would push for a nationwide lockdown. If no agreement could be reached, Upper Austria and Salzburg would "go into a lockdown lasting several weeks starting next week." Health, life, and health care must be protected, he said. "We have a very, very little leeway."
Haslauer confirmed the hard lockdown would apply to the entire population and to all areas. "Today we have again an enormous number development. We no longer see any alternative to a lockdown starting next week," Haslauer told Austria Press Agency. The duration is still being calculated with experts, he added. The governor of Salzburg assured: "I have fought to ensure that we do not go into a lockdown. However, with these numbers, an overload of hospitals is foreseeable." The most recent measures taken by the federal government and the state of Salzburg did not take effect as quickly as hoped. "We also need time for the vaccinations, which are going well, to take effect."