In this post you can find information about the current situation regarding COVID-19 in Austria, and specifically in Villach and Carinthia. Answers to the most important questions are also provided for you here.
We aim to give you an overview with information collected from different sources. Due to the rapidly changing situation, we recommend that you check out the links provided in the text for more detailed and up-to-date information. Please be aware that there is a lot of fake news spreading right now on social media! Remember to stay calm and keep yourself informed through official sites and trusted media sources.
A new and free information service provided by the World Health Organization gives you 24/7 access to official and trustworthy information on your mobile phone via WhatsApp. This super simple system can help you learn more about COVID-19 and current infection rates, how to protect yourself, and get answers to FAQs.
Here you can find the newest information regarding COVID-19 in Villach/Carinthia. For general information please have a look at the section “What is the situation in Villach?”
Protective Measures and Restrictions:
Supportive Measures - #WirHaltenZusammen:
Here you can find the newest information regarding COVID-19 in Austria. For general information please have a look at the corresponding section in the FAQ part of the page.
Protective Measures and Restrictions:
Transportation & Travel Restrictions:
For general information please have a look at the section “Are there restrictions on entering and leaving Carinthia and/or Austria?”
The risk of severe disease associated with COVID-19 infection for people in the EU/EEA is currently considered moderate for the general population and high for older adults and individuals with chronic underlying conditions. Due to how quickly COVID-19 is spreading, protective measures to slow its spread have been significantly increased by the Austrian government in the last few days. Chancellor Kurz and his administration have repeatedly expressed that the highest priority at the moment is the protection of the local population as well as workers and guests from around the world, and especially those who seem most severely affected, such as elderly people. Thus, the Austrian government has called on every single person to do what they can to stop the exponential spread of COVID-19 by reducing social contact to an absolute minimum.
Without a complete societal shutdown we cannot stop the spread of this coronavirus. However, by limiting our social contact we can definitely slow its spread, which will ensure that hospitals and health services have time to prepare so they are ready when more people do get sick, and do not get overwhelmed with too many patients at once. These measures also help to prevent the exponential growth of the virus (see graphics) and in turn, are necessary to protect the groups who seem to be most severely affected by this disease, namely elderly people and those with pre-existing health conditions. Everybody carries responsibility, so let’s work together! If you have further questions, you can call the coronavirus info service hotline of AGES at 0800 555621.
Check out the video below to see what flattening the curve really means:
At the moment there are the following restrictions on entering or leaving Austria (03/22/2020 - please check the "Latest Information" section above for the most up-to-date information):
Leaders of the European Union and Schengen area countries have agreed to close the external borders of the EU to non-essential incoming travel for 30 days in order to limit the spread of the virus (03/17/2020). Citizens of Schengen area countries, EU citizens, UK citizens, long-term residents and their family members, diplomats, cross-border and healthcare workers, and people transporting goods are exempt.
Austrian Airlines has stopped all flights until April 19th (UPDATE: 03/30/2020). Currently, the Austrian government has banned all passenger flights coming from China, Korea, Iran, Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Russia and Ukraine.
Limitations are also in place when it comes to travelers coming from or going to other countries within Europe. Due to COVID-19, the borders to Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Germany, and Hungary have been closed to most people, so overland travel to those counties is currently allowed for very few people. For those people still allowed to travel across the borders - someone returning to their country of citizenship or long-term residency, goods transporters, and some commuters - there are checks at the border crossings to Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Liechtenstein. People who want to enter Austria are checked and must show a medical certificate no older than four days. Citizens of Austria and non-citizens whose primary residence is in Austria are allowed to enter but are obligated to self-quarantine for 14 days after entering Austria from abroad (03/21/2020). Czech healthcare workers will be allowed to cross into Austria every day to carry out their jobs in the Austrian health sector (03/26/2020)
From March 23th to April 13th local public transportation of the ÖBB (S-Bahn) will be reduced. Thus, during non-peak hours trains will run only every 2 hours. At the moment there are also no train connections to Italy or Slovenia, and all trains that normally go to these countries now end in Villach. On the line to and from Salzburg, there are no stops for passenger service in Bad Gastein, Hofgastein, and Dorfgastein. Additionally, the car shuttle train (Autoschleuse) between Mallnitz-Obervellach and Böckstein is not running. The southern train line to and from Vienna is operating according to schedule.
All 279 municipalities (Gemeinden) in Tyrol, Heiligenblut in Carinthia, and Flachau, Gasteinertal (Bad Gastein, Bad Hofgastein, Dorfgastein), Großarltal (Großarl, Hüttschlag) in Salzburg have been put under quarantine. Anyone who has been in any of those places is strongly urged to go into self-isolation at home for 14 days. Anyone who has had contact with people who have been in these regions should also self-isolate. This applies even if no symptoms are currently noticeable. Foreign citizens who are currently in those areas and wish to return home will be allowed to do so, but everyone else, including Austrian citizens who are only there to visit, must stay within the quarantine zone for the allotted time. Access into and out of those areas will be strictly controlled, but authorities have stressed that the people in those areas will be well taken care of.
In order to get the latest information about current travel restrictions and public transportation, as well as short-term changes, we recommend getting in touch with relevant authorities (Austria or Carinthia) before setting out on your journey.
Currently there are restrictions on train services from the ÖBB in Carinthia (03/21/2020). From March 23th to April 13th local public transportation (S-Bahn) will be reduced. Thus, during non-peak hours trains will run only every 2 hours. Additionally, the car shuttle train (Autoschleuse) between Mallnitz-Obervellach and Böckstein is not running.
We will provide information if this situation changes.
Measures to combat the spread of the virus have been significantly increased in the last week by Austria’s authorities (all current updates can be found under "Latest Information" on the top of the page):
Individuals are still allowed to go outside for walks, to run, and to cycle - but only alone, with people they live with, or with their pets. This should only happen if necessary.
Pharmacies and drugstores, grocery stores, animal food shops, gas stations, tobacconists, post offices, and banks will stay open!
The authorities emphasize that important shops and institutions for daily needs, such as pharmacies and drugstores, grocery stores, animal food shops, post offices, tobacconists, and banks, will stay open! In addition, different sections of the militia are on the call to ensure the provision of basic supplies in Austria. Starting April 1st, people who have already completed their civil service (Zivildiener) will be volunteering to support healthcare and other care initiatives. In addition, the term of duty of 1,500 people who are currently fulfilling their civil service has been extended (03/31/2020).
Please be cautious of the numerous fake news articles on social media and stay informed through official and trustworthy sites.
Actions have also been taken in Villach due to the Coronavirus. All current updates can be found under "Latest Information" on the top of the page or at www.villach.at/corona (German only!):
Protective Measures and Restrictions:
Supportive Measures - #WirHaltenZusammen:
Businesses and private people:
The national government provides a “Corona Crisis Fund” worth €38 billion for businesses (03/19/2020), in order to support employers and save jobs:
UPDATE (04/01/2020): The “Härtefallfond” (serious hardship fund) for sole proprietor businesses and small business owners was raised to €2 billion.
Also, your electricity, water, and heat will not get cut off in case of delayed payments! This exception will be in effect until May 1st. There might also be other institutions which can provide additional support during the Corona crisis: e.g. especially hard hit students (who lost their jobs and aren’t entitled to receive unemployment benefits) might apply for support of the social funds of the ÖH (Austrian National Union of Students federal body of Representatives).
Moreover, regional governments might have introduced additional financial support, like the social and economic “Corona Aid Package” of the City of Villach, which involves measures to support and take pressure off businesses, employers, and employees, in addition to the federal aid package (03/19/2020). The City of Villach has also decided on a reduced fee for the time when the protective measures are in place for those families who still need their child(ren) to go to kindergarten or daycare. Only the first half of March will need to be paid and then the fees will be waived until after Easter. Parents do not have to pay the normal fee when their kids stay at home during this time. (03/25/2020)
For more information please contact the responsible authorities (e.g. WKO) or check out their homepage (only German).
The Austrian government announced another € 22 million investment to go towards research to find medication against COVID-19 (03/21/2020). Also, €100 million was allocated by the government to prevent shortages of 24 hour, stationary, and mobile care (03/26/2020).
Currently there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Carinthia. According to the government’s announcement on March 13th, the winter ski season officially ended the evening of March 15th, and most accommodation establishments in Carinthia (hotels, apartments, guest rooms, etc) can no longer accept visitors beginning on March 16th. If you are coming from another country, please check the information provided by your home country government and embassies in Austria that might share more detailed travel information (for example, the US embassy). However, if you decide not to travel to Carinthia even if you have already booked your holiday, please check with your travel provider, accommodation, or travel insurance agent directly regarding possibilities of a refund. If you need more information regarding travel law, contact the free hotline of the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) 0800 201 211.
The unpredictability of the spread of COVID-19 has led to tense situations worldwide. Travelers should check travel warnings and travel provider websites (like the one from the Vienna Airport) frequently. It is, however, important to know that as increased restrictions in air and travel traffic have been imposed, the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs has strongly recommended against taking unnecessary trips. The Austrian government has also strongly advised Austrians who are traveling abroad to return home as long there are travel options available.
Unfortunately, this is not yet very clear. So far we know that it affects elderly people and those with weakened immune systems and pre-existing conditions quite severely. It does not appear to affect most children very much at all.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between this coronavirus, a cold, and the flu, and the vast majority of people so far have had quite mild cases of COVID-19.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
It’s important to note that sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, and headaches are not normally symptoms of coronavirus.
The Austrian Ministry for Social Affairs provides recommendations for protecting yourself against COVID-19. It is recommended that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds several times a day with soap or an alcohol-based disinfectant; greet people with a smile instead of a hug, kiss, or a handshake; avoid direct contact with people showing symptoms of illness; if you have to cough, cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue instead of using your hands; try to avoid touching your face.
To add a little fun to all these recommendations, as well as learn how to properly wash your hands to really get rid of germs, you can create your own hand washing instructions accompanied by your favourite song!
If you notice symptoms or believe you have been infected, it is extremely important to avoid all social contact with others! Do not go to public spaces, do not use public transportation, and do not go to the doctor or the hospital unless it is a true emergency. Please isolate yourself in your home and call the Austrian health service hotline at 1450. From them you will receive further instructions on how to proceed.
If you are unsure, you can also do a self-check by answering a questionnaire online.
For further information please check out the following links and the links provided above in the text for the most important websites providing information in English.
There is a learning app called uugot.it (for Android or the Webapp for iOS and desktop) in its early test phase. It provides the latest ORF videos about COVID-19 with German subtitles and the option to translate single words into different languages. You can find further information on the official website.
We have done our best to ensure that this information is complete and that the most important news is present in this post. Nevertheless, we do not assume responsibility for everything being perfectly up-to-date and complete at all times. We will do our utmost to update it as often as we can! (And please send us a message through our Facebook page if you see something incomplete or outdated!)
In the meantime, stay safe and healthy!
PS: And here’s someone you should really listen to. ;-)