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BREAKING: Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland to re-enter strict coronavirus lockdown

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The announcement was made on Wednesday evening at a press conference by Health Minister Rudolf Anschober together with Governors Michael Ludwig (Vienna), Johanna Mikl-Leitner (Lower Austria) and Hans-Peter Doskozil (Burgenland).

Several lockdown measures will be adopted, including a 24-hour stay at home order, the closure of all non-essential shops and services, as well as an extension of the school holidays. 

What measures will be adopted? 

The government outlined nine measures which would be put in place as part of the tightened lockdown. 

The lockdown is set to come into effect from Thursday, April 1st – traditionally the first day of Easter. Some measures may end on April 6th, while others will remain in place indefinitely. 

1: Close contact services like hairdressers and cosmetic services will be closed from April 1st until April 6th. 

2: Non-essential shops (i.e. retail) will be forced to close. Only supermarkets and pharmacies will be allowed to open (from April 1st until the 6th). 

3: FFP2 masks will be required outdoors wherever crowds form 

4: Commuters from risk areas must be tested twice per week, while police will carry out more border checks. 

5: FFP2 masks will be required in indoor settings where more than one person is present. 

6: Companies are to ask employees to work from home or be tested at least once per week. 

7: Schools will go to distance learning after the Easter break (i.e. no face-to-face lessons)

8: If retail opens again on April 7th – which is by no means certain and depends on infections and hospitalisations – people will need to show evidence of a negative test to go into non-essential stores

9: A 24-hour stay at home order will come into effect, whereby you can only leave the house for certain exceptions. 

More information as to when you can leave your house is available at the following link. 

Austria’s coronavirus lockdown: Under what circumstances can I leave my apartment?

Anschober said that the measures may be extended across the country if infections continue to rise.  

“Eastern Austria is a pilot region, it could easily be the same in other federal states.”

New variant to blame

Ludwig told the press that if these measures did not work in curbing rising infection rates and hospitalisations, an extended lockdown would be imposed. 

“If we don’t see results in a timely manner, we will have to go beyond this package,” says the Mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig. 

“Eastern Austria is much more confronted with the ‘British variant’, which is also related to the neighbouring countries Slovakia and the Czech Republic, where the variant is widespread. Vorarlberg is doing better there, the British variant is currently less widespread in Switzerland and Germany”, said Ludwig.

“Until now we believed that school is less affected. We now see it differently. Not everyone should go back to school immediately, the risk of infection there is very high,” says Ludwig. 

Seven day incidence is at 243

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 243.

The number is highest in Vienna (312), followed by Salzburg (298.9). The value is lowest in Vorarlberg (78.1) and Styria (190.8). Around 3,415 newly coronavirus infections were registered on Tuesday. 

MAPS: Where are Austria’s hospitals under the most pressure?

A record number of people are in intensive care with coronavirus in Vienna and planned operations are being postponed.

Patients are younger and have more severe cases of the disease due to the British mutation of the virus Der Standard newspaper reports.



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HSE working to amend booster system as people receive multiple appointments

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The Health Service Executive (HSE) is working to amend the coronavirus vaccine system, as multiple channels offering third jabs has caused challenges for the booster campaign, HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor has said.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Ms O’Connor explained that the booster vaccine was available through vaccination centres, general practitioners and pharmacies.

Some people had gone to their local pharmacy to get their booster vaccine and then had received an appointment at a vaccination centre, she said. She called on people to cancel their vaccination centre appointment if they had received their booster through their GP or pharmacy.

Ms O’Connor’s comments come after Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Tuesday that there were 87,000 no-shows for boosters last week, and the chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP committee, Dr Denis McCauley, described the non-attendances as “very disrespectful”.

Ms O’Connor said the priority for the HSE was to get as many people fully vaccinated as possible.

When asked about the lower levels of people in the 60-69 age cohort who have received their booster vaccine, Ms O’Connor said that not everyone in that age group would have had their second vaccine more than five months ago. That was “a natural limiter”.

Ms O’Connor said people possibly were apprehensive or busier, now that many were back at work or were preparing for Christmas, but the vaccine was important as was the booster.

To date more than a million people have received their booster vaccine, she added, and appointments will be offered to people aged between 50 and 59 from Thursday.

“We will also have walk-in centres open to people to get their vaccine and as ever we encourage everybody to avail of the vaccine. It’s really important, especially with a new variant, that we try to protect as many people as possible,” Ms O’Connor said.

‘Be respectful’

Meanwhile, Dr McAuley told Newstalk Breakfast that there were very few no-shows to booster appointments at GP surgeries, because people know their GP personally.

Now was not the time for “messing”, he said in relation to people failing to attend their appointments at vaccine centres.

“If you get a vaccine appointment, make sure that you go there rather than getting your hair done or going shopping – or if it is a work thing, stay on the helpline to get a new appointment.

“Be respectful of the mass vaccination centres. These are people who are working very hard and it is very disrespectful to have over 80,000 people not turn up in one week. It is not appropriate. You wouldn’t do it to your GP so why are you doing it to these healthcare workers.”

There was also a concern that some people were waiting to see what happens with the Omicron variant before getting their booster. Dr McCauley said that the booster would greatly reduce the chances of picking up the virus or having to go into hospital

Dr McCauley said there needed to be “a call to arms” for people to get vaccinated and he warned that when more information about Omicron emerged, booster appointments could be harder to come by.

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All you need to know on getting the Moderna vaccine as a booster

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People due to receive their Covid-19 booster vaccine in coming weeks will primarily be offered the Moderna dose at HSE vaccination centres.

The HSE is reported to have large supplies of Moderna due to expire next month, so that will be the main vaccine administered over coming weeks to the over-60s, over-50s, healthcare workers, and younger people in vulnerable groups – though it will be restricted to people over 30.

Anecdotally there are indications some people may be reluctant to take the Moderna vaccine. This may be due to Irish stocks about to expire shortly and/or confusion about its efficacy. This follows the company’s chief executive Stéphane Bancel warning last week the Moderna jab may not be as effective against Omicron as it had been with the Delta variant.

The HSE has confirmed recipients will have no choice on what vaccine they are given.

What type of coronavirus vaccine is the Moderna jab?

It is a new kind of synthetic “mRNA vaccine” – the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is from the same stable. They provide excellent protection against severe illness and hospitalisation – and have played a critical role in reducing Covid-19 deaths since being approved. A downside, however, is that the Moderna version must be kept at -20 degrees.

Should people be worried about receiving a soon to be out-of-date vaccine?





Total doses distributed to Ireland Total doses administered in Ireland


10,093,390


8,193,802

In short no, as they retain the ability to boost antibody production within currently approved time spans – though inevitably potency wanes over time. The Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen (Johnson&Johnson) vaccines were put on the market with emergency use authorisation of up to six months.

This compares with a shelf life of two to three years for most vaccines and other medicines. This is an “inevitable consequence of getting the vaccines out of the door as quickly as possible”, chief scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Gino Martini told the journal BMJ.

Months later, these “emergency” expiry dates remain in force for these vaccines. For approved Covid-19 vaccines, the initial shelf lives were based on data available at the time of submission for regulatory approval.

The long-term shelf life has not been extended for any of the vaccines. A shelf life extension would require supporting evidence from relevant stability studies. Vaccine manufacturers are monitoring batches of vaccines with the aim of providing a longer shelf life; probably the usual two years.

What about the Omicron threat?

While Moderna said existing vaccines including its mRNA version will probably be less effective against the Omicron variant, most experts believe they will continue to provide significant protection against severe disease and hospitalisation. It should be stressed, however, definitive indication has yet to emerge. That will be a matter of weeks, if not days.

Moderna has confirmed it is developing an Omicron-specific booster though manufacturing the new vaccine would take time. Tens of millions of doses could be available in the first quarter of 2022, but scale-up would not happen until the second quarter – provided it is shown such boosters are required.

What is the latest indication on the benefits of mixing vaccines?

Evidence supporting a mixing of vaccine doses has hardened over recent months. A study this week shows combining a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine with a second dose of either the Moderna or the Novavax jabs results in far higher levels of neutralising antibodies and T-cells compared with two doses of the AstraZeneca jab.

This finding also has important implications for lower-income countries that have not yet completed their primary vaccination campaigns as it suggests you do not need access to mRNA vaccines – and therefore ultra-cold storage facilities – to trigger an extremely potent Covid-19 vaccine response.

The study also bolsters confidence that using the Moderna vaccine as a booster dose in people who have previously received the AstraZeneca jab should result in high levels of neutralising antibodies and T-cells.

It follows separate data published last week suggesting the Pfizer and Moderna booster jabs can dramatically strengthen the body’s immune defences.

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Woman (90s) dies following single-vehicle crash in Co Clare

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A woman in her 90s has died following a single-vehicle crash in Co Clare in the early hours of Tuesday.

The incident occurred at about 12.30am at Annagh, Miltown Malbay. The woman, who was the driver and sole occupant of the car involved in the crash, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her body was removed to Limerick University Hospital, where gardaí say a postmortem will take place at a later date.

The road has been closed to facilitate an exam by Garda forensic collision investigators, and local diversions are in place.

Gardaí have appealed for witnesses – particularly road users who may have camera footage – to come forward. Anyone with information can contact Kilrush Garda station (065 908 0550), the confidential line (1800 666 111), or any Garda station.

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