Gentler Omicron – Calls for end of lockdown and later curfew

The corona infection numbers continue to rise amid the omicron wave. With 25,610 new infections within 24 hours – almost 10,000 more than a week ago – Monday was the second highest value in the pandemic so far. How many daily cases the number of infections can increase can only be speculated on. However, experts agree that the end of the road has not yet been reached.

The number of hospital stays has also increased. While there were still 679 Covid 19 patients in normal wards a week ago on Sunday, there were already 949 this Sunday. On the other hand, the occupancy rate in the intensive care units has fallen (from 212 to 190 within a week), which is reflected in the average milder course of the disease, which triggers the omicron variant.

This raises the question of whether current measures such as the lockdown for the unvaccinated, the 2G regulation for large areas of public life or the general curfew at 10 p.m. are still justified. The reason for these strong restrictions is defined as protection against overloading the health system.

Neos and Doskozil for loosening soon

In any case, the Neos called for an end to all the measures mentioned on Monday – at the latest when the compulsory vaccination comes into force at the beginning of February. Party leader Beate Meinl-Reisinger also pushed for a phased plan with which all measures should be abolished by April. Burgenland’s governor Hans Peter Doskozil (SPÖ) also pushed forward on Monday to be able to imagine an end to the lockdown for the unvaccinated and a later curfew.

Whether and which measures could actually be taken is currently being discussed in the national crisis coordination (Gecko). The various subgroups are in constant contact, and a joint meeting is then scheduled for the end of the week. Only after this will the findings and any changes be made public.

“The efficiency of the lockdown for unvaccinated people is discussed quite differently among experts,” says simulation researcher Niki Popper, also part of the Gecko Commission, in an interview with the “Wiener Zeitung”. As with other measures, the question is how high the potential of the measure is in principle – and how well this can then be exploited in practice.

Longer lockdown difficult for the unvaccinated

The lockdown for unvaccinated people has fundamental potential to help contain the spread of infection, says Popper. In contrast to those who have not been vaccinated, there is also protection against infection, especially in the case of relatively freshly boosted people – not only against severe courses. Therefore, measures for the unvaccinated could in principle be effective. At the same time, however, the question arises as to how strong the lockdown will be and how it will be controlled. “And the evaluation looks, to put it mildly, completely different again,” says Popper. Ultimately, the two parameters would have to be weighted and a political decision made on this basis.

From a constitutional point of view, it is likely to be more difficult to permanently maintain the lockdown for the unvaccinated and a far-reaching 2G rule, as was also learned from government circles. According to reports, a later curfew should not be considered for the time being – despite the strong pressure from the economy – due to the increasing number of infections and hospitalizations.

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