Today in Austria: A round-up of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on today in Austria with The Local's short roundup of the news.


Pandemic situation ‘getting worse’

Further tightening of containment measures is expected in the coming days in Austria, at least regionally, as the situation with the pandemic is getting worse and the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals’ intensive care units has increased, Die Presse newspaper reports.

Easter lockdown ‘will not be enough to contain pandemic’

The President of the Austrian Society for Anaesthesiology, Resuscitation and Intensive Care Medicine (ÖGARI) Walter Hasibeder has told the Ö1 morning journal radio programme he does not think the Easter lockdown in Eastern Austria will be sufficient to contain the virus.

He wants a 14-day lockdown and for the measures to be taken across Austria due to the intensive care bed situation the Der Standard newspaper reports. 

Two thirds of population to be vaccinated  by end of June

Health Minister Rudof Anschober has presented the vaccination plan for the second quarter, pledging to vaccinate two thirds of the population with at least one jab by the end of June.

Currently, an average of 33,446 vaccinations are carried out daily and 1.1 million people have received at least one vaccination dose, Der Standard newspaper reports. 

Exit tests for North Tyrol

People wishing to leave North Tyrol from Wednesday will have to show a recent negative PCR test, broadcaster ORF reports. The exit test requirements will initially be in place for two weeks for North Tyrol and within Tyrol for the Kufstein district.

The reason is an outbreak of the British coronavirus variant mutation with other mutation features (B.1.1.7 with E484K). It is feared the new variant will be more vaccine resistant.

East Tyrol is exempt from the exit test. According to AGES there are 103 such cases in the Schwaz district, 54 cases are known in the Kufstein district to date. 

New wave in autumn, virologist warns

The Austrian virologist Dorothee von Laer is already warning of a new wave of infections in autumn.

Although she expects a quiet summer, should vaccine resistant variants of the coronavirus prevail during this time, there could be another wave in autumn, von Laer on Sunday told the broadcaster ORF.

She said it was important to prepare for this and plan more vaccinations.

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Reader question: Where can I get tested for Covid-19 in Austria?

Since the beginning of May, street testing sites have no longer been available - and free antigen tests are becoming harder to find in Austrian pharmacies. So, what should you do if you suspect you have Covid or need a test?

Reader question: Where can I get tested for Covid-19 in Austria?

In theory, the Austrian Health Ministry’s instructions for dealing with a possible Covid-19 infection are quite simple: stay at home, reduce contacts, wear an FFP2 mask if necessary, and call the health hotline 1450.

Then, an infection would be confirmed via a test sent by the health hotline or, according to the ministry, after using a test in one of the so-called Teststraße, specific locations dedicated to offering the free Covid-19 tests, either via a swab in the nose or mouth.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in May 2023

However, in practice, implementing these guidelines is proving to be difficult in Austria. At the end of April, all test lanes and gargle boxes were discontinued, which has made it challenging for individuals to get tested for Covid-19. When calling the health hotline, many employees say they are overloaded and have no more testing capacity, according to Austrian media reports.

Even in pharmacies, the stocks of antigen or PCR tests are going down every day. The offer for five free antigen tests per person per month was extended until June 30th, but supplies have been low for weeks, according to Austrian pharmacists.

The demand for testing is high, given the current infection numbers. On average, around 650 new infections are reported every day, with the number of unreported cases increasing from day to day, as shown by a comparison with the figures from wastewater monitoring, Der Standard reported.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Do I still have to wear a face mask due to Covid-19 rules in Austria?

How can I get tested in Austria?

Despite the difficulties, every month, in addition to the five rapid antigen tests – if you can get hold of them at a pharmacy – each person is also entitled to five free PCR tests. However, how to get them varies from state to state in Austria.

In Vienna, as part of the “Everyone gargles!” campaign, Viennese citizens can pick up five gargle tests at all Bipa stores. The sample can then be returned to one of the collection points (including Rewe stores, gas stations, and participating pharmacies).

The free PCR tests can also be done in pharmacies all over Austria, which seems to work well. Viennese people can split the five free PCR tests, taking about two tests in pharmacies and doing three “Alles gurgelt!” tests, for example.

READ ALSO: Austria to drop all Covid restrictions by the end of June

To simplify the process of getting tested for Covid-19, registering for a PCR test at the pharmacy at can help shorten and streamline the process.

However, many testing sites also offer testing without pre-registration.