Austria Will Test 65,000 Hotel Employees for Coronavirus Every Week As It Reopens to Tourists
Austria will start a country-wide effort to test hotel employees for coronavirus in hopes to bring back tourists this summer.
Private labs are prepared to begin coronavirus testing of 65,000 hotel employees per week, starting July 1, according to Reuters. Austria currently tests between 6,000 and 8,000 people each day.
“In which country in the world can you go on holiday and say the staff you come into contact with, the waiters, are tested regularly?” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a press conference last week. “It will be very few countries.”
The aggressive testing campaign comes after a coronavirus outbreak occurred at a ski resort earlier this year. Hundreds of tourists from Iceland, Germany, Norway and several other countries are believed to have been infected at crowded apres-ski bars. The virus was circulating for at least a month in the resort town of Ischgl before it went into quarantine.
The largest portion of Austria’s tourists come from Germany. The border between the two countries is expected to open on June 15. Hotels are expected to reopen on May 29, according to a government website.
Restaurants and bars in Austria have been open since May 15, albeit with some restrictions. A curfew of 11 p.m. was set in place — which President Alexander Van der Bellen accidentally broke. In a statement on Twitter, the Austrian president apologized, saying that he “lost track of the time while chatting and unfortunately overlooked the hour.”
And establishments in Vienna are using unique methods to follow guidelines and ensure social distancing practices. Kleinod Prunkstück, a cocktail bar that only opened a few months before the pandemic, placed mannequins around its bars and tables, outfitted in clothing from a Viennese designer.
Austria confirmed at least 16,459 cases of coronavirus and 641 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Most cases were found in Austria’s mountainous region of Tyrol.