Overview of Covid-19 measures taken by the City of Vienna

As of May 20th, 2020

Cautious exit, inclusive recovery

As Austria´s government continues the relief of Covid-19 measures, businesses, restaurants,

schools and childcare facilities, services and spaces in the cities and regions of the country

re-open again step-by-step. The city of Vienna has decided to go for a cautious and inclusive

exit and recovery strategy, accompanied by increased testing of staff in critical

infrastructure, schools as well as child care facilities, and rapid detection of new infection

spots. However, this is overshadowed by political debates that are due to upcoming

municipal elections, leading contradictory statements by different members of the national

government about Vienna´s capacity to manage recovery. While the Minister of Health

reports excellent cooperation with Vienna and a good handling of the crisis, the Minister of

the Interior repeatedly accuses the city of being reluctant to share information and to work

together with the police. Mayor Michael Ludwig has shown irritation and rejected criticisms:

“Contradictory statements on the management of the Covid-19 situation unsettle our

citizens. This is exactly what cannot be allowed to happen now. It is important to bring the

country through this difficult time with calm and deliberation.”

One big hotspot for infections has been detected and followed up fast, with first cases

found in a home for refugees in April. However, contact tracing showed clear indication that

a mail distribution centre in Hagenbrunn, a small town in Lower Austria, or the contract

employment agencies were the triggers. Only ten percent of those affected in Vienna

apparently showed symptoms. On Sunday, Vienna City Councillor for Health, Peter Hacker,

presented a first analysis of the current cluster of coronavirus infections: “A close

examination of the latest figures showed that many of the workers working in the mail

distribution centre live in Vienna. Contract work is apparently a big problem in this context.

This had nothing to do with refugees. Most of the cases, for example in the home for

refugees in Vienna, could be traced back to the postal distribution centres – and not vice

versa.” Hacker explained that the city changed its testing strategy to target larger facilities

at an early stage instead of waiting for an infection being reported. In this context, he sees

the issue of contract work as a more serious problem: “People don’t go on sick leave

because then they don’t get any more money. They don’t call in when they are sick. So it’s

fatal if they’re together in the company bus or in the staff room,” said Peter Hacker. Vienna

will therefore take a closer look at the topic of contract work and precarious employment in

Vienna.

Current key figures from Vienna

As of May 20th there are 3.020 confirmed cases of the disease in Vienna, 2.405 people have

recovered. 144 people died due to Covid-19; since more than one week, no new fatalities due

to Covid-19 have been reported. Around 50.000 people in Vienna lost jobs and currently,

270,000 Viennese are registered for short-time work. Most affected sectors are tourism,

 

catering, trade and construction. The increase in unemployment among young people is

above average, leading city government to develop more support in this field.

Health and social care

 The social affairs department ensured its services to its 133,000 users during the crisis

by extending the duration of expiring social benefits; an automatic procedure and

postponed controls were set up, allowing everyone in need to get their social

allowances and stay financially stable. Communication in the main languages of

Vienna´s diverse population reached out to all concerned citizens (12.5.).

 Recent data analysis of Vienna´s department for statistics shows that there is no

excess mortality rate in Vienna; the mortality rate has stayed in a normal range (11.5.).

 Vienna Hospitals: Giving birth under normal circumstances is possible; there is no

need to wear a facemask (9.5.).

 City of Vienna accelerates corona tests: tests of teachers and healthcare sector

workers are increased (8.5.).

 Relaxed rules for visiting nursing homes: From May 4th, visiting family members and

friends in residential homes and nursing homes is allowed again, guidelines are

established to control the visits (29.4.).

 Vienna Hospitals: Cancer patients get unrestricted treatments under safe conditions

(27.4.).

 24h-caregivers, mainly women from countries as Rumania, Slovakia and Hungary,

who had to extend their stay receive a bonus of 500 Euros (27.4.).

Public services: energy, water, waste and transport

 In time with the rising temperatures, Vienna’s drinking fountains will be turned up

again from 4 May. The commissioning of all fountains will take a few days. Then free

spring water will flow out of about 1,000 drinking fountains from the mountains.

People are asked not drink directly from the drinking fountains, but to fill a bottle

they have brought with them. The 55 monumental and memorial fountains will also

be put back into operation (4.5.).

© Wiener Wasser/Novotny

Vienna is well-known for its excellent water quality: now, the 1000 drinking fountains

are operational again. They can be found on an interactive website:

https://www.wien.gv.at/stadtplanmobil/#

zoom=14&lat=48.20602&lon=16.37709&layer=trinkbrunnen&base=karte

 

 Normal intervals for public underground have started on May 11th, and on May 18th,

for busses and trams (4.5.).

 Student semester tickets for the “Wiener Linien”, public transport, are valid until

September 30th (3.5.).

 Vienna´s first pop-up bike lane opened on Praterstraße in the second district; as it

used a former lane of cars, this lead to a lot of discussions (7.5.).

 The short-term parking zone regulation is on force again from April 27th; also for

parking garages, the normal rates will be valid again (24.4.).

Helping the economy and people to keep jobs

 Gastro vouchers for Vienna´s citizens: In order to support the Viennese gastronomy

up to 50 Euros will be given to every household. In total, the City of Vienna provides

40 million Euros for this campaign to help and support the Viennese gastronomy. The

citizens can redeem these vouchers for food and non-alcoholic beverages (13.5.).

 The Vienna Employment Promotion Fund (waff) is the City of Vienna’s labour market

organization. It is currently urgently seeking applicants who wish to start training to

become home care, nursing assistants and social workers, all careers leading to safe

jobs (13.5.).

 Vienna companies can apply for tax relief for Vienna provincial and municipal taxes.

Among other things, deferrals or instalment payments are possible upon request;

there will be no surcharges for late payment, interest on deferral and late payment

penalties, as decided by the legislative assembly of the city on April 30th (30.4.).

 The guarantee scheme for companies was doubled – the aid package for bridging

loans was increased to 20 million Euros (26.4.).

Housing and homelessness

 Vienna´s 1st Municipal Housing Choir (1. Wiener Gemeindebau-Chor) invites to sing

along since April 15th. Instructions are published weekly for download on

https://wohnpartner-wien.at/aktuelles/detail/1-wiener-gemeindebau-chor-laedtzum-

mitsingen-ein and on the YouTube channel “wohnpartner wien”, so that a new

song can be rehearsed every week. Participating is very easy: listen to the

instructions, open or print out the sheet music and you can sing along.

© Wohnpartner Wien/Screenshot

 

Education, arts and culture

 Schools in Vienna open in 3 stages: on May 4th, school-leavers about to graduate, as

well as for apprentices in their final year return to school. As of May 18th, children up

to 14 years of age, i.e. all classes of primary schools, new secondary schools, lower

secondary schools, special schools and all German language classes start again. From

June 3rd, school students of the higher school levels, return. Classes are divided into 2

groups of about 11 children each, unless the class is already small enough. These

groups are taught in their classrooms, but alternately in shifts. There will be no crossclass

lessons or project work. If possible, it is recommended that classes start at

staggered intervals. This will result in different break times and class ends. Although

the information from the national government came on a very short notice, the city

had very quickly ordered around 100,000 masks for kindergartens and schools as

well as 30,000 children’s masks, disinfectants, etc. (3.5.).

 Phased plan for child care facilities: Starting from May 4th, kindergartens are

gradually opened again for children under certain circumstances (23.4.).

 Music schools open again: Lessons with physical presence start again on May 18th,

initially only one-to-one lessons are possible (13.5.).

 Libraries open again from May 18th: For the moment only borrowing and returning

books is possible, there are renewal offers for new customers of the Viennese

libraries (11.5.).

Communication, citizen engagement and neighbourhood initiatives

 At the first children’s press conference on corona in the Vienna City Hall on May

14th, the focus was on questions from children. In the city hall´s huge ballroom, where

the press conferences of the city government take place usually now, Mayor Michael

Ludwig and City Councillor Juergen Czernohorszky, responsible for children and

youth, answered the questions of young citizens between 4 and 10 years of age sent

in previously by video (14.5).

 The city undertook an online survey with more than 1.000 citizens aged 16 and over,

which showed great satisfaction with the services provided by Vienna in the context

of the corona pandemic. The way the City of Vienna is dealing with the current

situation was assessed positively:

o 43,4 % are of the opinion that Vienna handles the current situation and the

measures “much better” or “somewhat better” than the rest of Austria. 41,6%

conceded “equally good handling”.

o 59,8 % are “very or rather satisfied” with the crisis communication/information

provided by the city, while 16,2% are “less satisfied or not satisfied at all”. 69,1

% of the respondents feel sufficiently informed, almost a third of all

respondents give the best value “yes, definitely”.

o The information prepared by the City of Vienna in the various media channels

is rated by 77,0 % as “very useful or useful”, by 74,2 % as “very comprehensive

or comprehensive” and by 73,1% as “very credible or credible”.

o 66,7 % are “very or rather satisfied” with the crisis management of the City of

Vienna. 79,4 % also trust that Vienna will master the Corona crisis and 50 %

are of the opinion that the current situation will strengthen social cohesion in

Vienna.

 

More room outdoors

 Open child and youth work starts again: “wienXtra”, the organization for all children

and young people in Vienna, offers a range of services, as festivals, concerts, movies,

games and media – und this invites young citizens to join and shape the city. Ten

facilities offer lots of information, events, educational services and advice as well as

adult education programmes– at low cost or free of charges. As of May 15th there will

be a focus on public space and wienXtra initiatives re-opened (7.5.).

Administration

 As of 15th May, the city administration gradually increases its normal contacts with

customers. “Face-to-face” are only provided after prior appointment reservation.

Appointments can be made online via a newly set up online appointment calendar, by

phone or e-mail directly with the responsible office.

 Clear rules have been established to protect both customers and staff from risks; as

keeping a distance of 1 m between all persons and following general hygiene

measures (such as washing hands). Where a 1 m distance between employees can be

maintained, no mask is required. If possible, work procedures are planned to ensure

that the number of staff working simultaneously in one place is kept to a minimum.

Urban life after corona

Mayor Michael Ludwig, who is also the President of the Austrian Association of Cities and

Towns has stated at several occasions that it will be vital ensuring that cities benefit from aid

and investment programmes at both national and European level. Vienna as Austria’s

biggest economic powerhouse is securing and creating jobs. In order to keep it that way, the

city will need financial assistance and more room to manoeuvre, particularly as many

revenues such as municipal taxes are collapsing or even disappearing completely. Mayor

Ludwig therefore calls on the federal government to safeguard the cities and municipalities’

finances. He also addresses the planned EU recovery package with the clear demand that

this needs to be applied to cities and municipalities, as their investments directly benefit

small and medium-sized enterprises. Towns and municipalities are the most important public

investors in Austria.

For more information please contact:

Michaela Kauer

Director Brussels Liaison Office

Department for European Affairs of the City of Vienna

michaela.kauer@wien.gv.at

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