Munich (dpa) – Shortly before the Whitsun holidays, from the point of view of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the Alpine Republic is removed from the German list of corona risk areas.
“What I hope is that the quarantine rules will be lifted soon,” Kurz said on the sidelines of the Ludwig Erhard summit in Munich from the German news agency on Tuesday.
It could be argued, Kurz continues, that quarantine regulations are needed if the infestations on one side of the border are ten or twenty times higher than on the other side. “But if the contamination rates in a neighboring country are about the same or even lower than in your own country, then that is difficult to argue.”
Kurz stressed that he trusted the federal government to make “fact-based” decisions here. With a seven-day incidence (new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days) of 95.1, the number of infections in Austria is now significantly lower than in Germany (115.4, as of Tuesday). The Austrian economy is hugely dependent on tourism revenues. The country is facing a significant economic downturn as a result of the pandemic.
According to Kurz, the fact that in Austria – unlike in Germany – people can go untested to restaurants or events after their first vaccination does not mean an increased safety risk. “The best reflection of the risk of contamination is the incidence of seven days and at the same time one has to look at how much a country tests,” he said. Measured by the number of inhabitants, no country is testing anymore, which means that the number of unreported cases is very low.
In addition, there are no clear European standards for assessing when a person is considered to be sufficiently vaccinated. “I don’t think that’s a big deal,” said Kurz. The number of vaccinated people will increase step by step in the coming weeks.
Austria will generally abolish its access rules for all other countries on May 19, except for high-risk areas. “That means that any German who has been tested, vaccinated or recovered can go on vacation in Austria, go to our restaurants, cultural events, sporting events or whatever – just like Austrians,” said Kurz. This must be verified by the “Green Pass”, which contains evidence for a vaccination or test.
According to Kurz, the Green Passport should be introduced throughout Europe as soon as possible: “The earlier it is at European level, the sooner it is valid for all of Europe, the sooner you can travel with it, the better.” This is especially important for countries like Austria. “We are a very international, export-oriented country, a tourist country. We are closely intertwined with our neighbors. Freedom to travel is extremely important to our citizens. “
At European level, the introduction is likely to drag on until the summer. Not an ideal solution for Kurz, he would have liked it faster. Kurz also believes that there will still be certain differences in the design for the time being, for example with regard to requirements in the individual countries.
The Chancellor stressed that, in his opinion, a different approach was needed: “At the start of the pandemic, we very quickly curtailed the necessary freedoms to protect people’s health. But we must restore freedom just as quickly. “All vulnerable groups and the elderly have now been vaccinated.” And the vaccination gives everyone individual protection. We must use the success of the vaccination to restore freedoms. “
However, concerns about new virus variants that would not be covered by current vaccines should not be ignored. “The event that at some point a mutation could occur that is not covered by the vaccination is an absolutely realistic scenario.” However, a danger must be fought if it exists. “But we can’t protect ourselves right now from something that might pop up in another part of the world in the fall.”