Austria’s first loosening of its coronavirus lockdown three weeks ago, in which thousands of shops reopened, has not led to a new spike in infections, though further vigilance is necessary, its health minister said on Tuesday.
The Alpine republic acted early to tackle the viral pandemic, closing bars, restaurants, schools, theatres, non-essential shops and other gathering places seven weeks ago. That helped cut the daily increase in infections to less than 1% and keep deaths relatively low – with just 606 reported so far.
Buoyed by those numbers, on April 14 Austria became one of the first countries in Europe to loosen its lockdown, reopening DIY and garden centres as well as shops of up to 400 square metres – twice the playing area of a singles tennis court.
“We can now examine and assess the effects of April 14 and the following days very, very well and they show that we managed this first opening step excellently,” Health Minister Rudolf Anschober told a news conference.
“We have no indication of a noticeable increase in individual areas. The situation is very, very constant, very, very stable and that is a really very, very positive, good situation,” he said.
The daily increase in infections, he added, is 0.2%.
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