On Sunday, June 28, tourism officials in Austria withdrew a general travel warning in place for Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state. The guidance had been in place since an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) broke out at the Tönnies meat plant in Gütersloh district of NRW last week. However, a ban on cross border travel remains in place for those arriving from Gütersloh district itself, unless the individual can provide a negative COVID-19 test less than 48 hours old. Those failing to provide this will be turned away at the border. NRW is Germany's most populous state and Austria is a popular destination for tourists from this area.
Austria lifted mandatory quarantine measures for people arriving from 31 European countries as of June 16, including Italy, Croatia, and Greece. Having initially been one of the few European countries, along with Portugal, the UK, and Sweden, where travelers still needed to present a negative coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test and undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, travelers from Spain are also exempt from restrictions as of Sunday, June 21. Austria had already lifted restrictions for all neighboring countries bar Italy from June 11. Travel restrictions have been in place for three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Austria is undergoing a phased relaxing of other COVID-19 measures. Non-essential shops have reopened and are required to comply with social distancing restrictions. Face masks are compulsory in all public spaces and gatherings of more than ten people remain prohibited. All high-risk individuals must continue to work from home or be placed on leave. Cafés and restaurants have been permitted to operate with limited hours since May 15, while hotels and recreational facilities reopened on May 29.
As of Monday, June 29, authorities confirmed 17,723 COVID-19 cases and 703 associated deaths nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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