Austria eyes Easter ‘resurrection’ as it loosens coronavirus lockdown at shops

A man wearing a protective mask walks a dog on a shopping street during the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vienna. (Reuters)

Austria is preparing for a “resurrection” the day after Easter by reopening some shops in an initial loosening of its coronavirus lockdown, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday, the first European country to outline such plans.

The Alpine and largely Catholic nation was broadly shut down three weeks ago, with schools, bars, restaurants, theatres, non-essential shops and other gathering places closed. The public has been told to stay at home and work from there if possible.

The lockdown has helped reduce the daily increase in infections to 1.6 percent, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said. The number of people in hospital has stabilized. There have been 12,206 cases and 220 deaths so far in Austria.

“We reacted faster and more restrictively than in other countries and could therefore avoid the worst. But this fast and restrictive reaction now also gives us the possibility to come out of this crisis more quickly,” Kurz, a conservative who governs with the left-wing Greens, told a news conference.

Read more: Science and economics collide over how long a lockdown should last

Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Italy could outline similar plans soon, but Austria is the first European country to give dates and details. Kurz cautioned, however, that his plan was tentative and depended on developments over the next seven days.

“Easter week will be a decisive one for us. It is one that will determine whether the resurrection after Easter that we all hope for can happen as such,” he said.

Kurz urged the public to stick to overall lockdown measures that which are being extended until the end of April.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:06 - GMT 07:06
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