Posted on March 20, 2020

Coronavirus Infections Top 2,000 in Austria, More Border Controls Imposed

Kirsti Knolle, Reuters, March 19, 2020

The number of coronavirus cases in Austria topped 2,000 on Thursday and continues to rise at a double digit rate, officials said, though most people are staying at home with widespread travel restrictions in place.

With the death toll from the spreading virus now at six, the landlocked Alpine republic will extend controls from its borders with Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to Hungary and Slovenia from Friday, the Health Ministry said.

Borders remain open only with the Czech Republic and Slovakia under the European Union’s Schengen scheme.

Border controls have snarled traffic at some crossings with Germany and tailbacks developed on Thursday along the frontier with Hungary due to travel bans imposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

Serbs, Romanians and Bulgarians, some of them caregivers for elderly Austrians, were especially affected by the delays, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said.

City streets have emptied with public transport cut by 90% and the volume of private traffic down by 45%, officials said. Train connections to Switzerland have been suspended, and trains to Germany take only German citizens. {snip}