Breaking: Austria shuts down culture

Breaking: Austria shuts down culture


norman lebrecht

October 31, 2020

As foretold two days ago on Slipped Disc, the national lockdown will start at midnight on Monday and will last a month. An hour after the Chncellor’s announcement, the Vienna Opera posted notice of closure from November 3.

Here’s a report from Der Standard:

A night-time curfew from 20:00 to 06:00 is planned. Access to public places will then only be allowed in certain exceptional cases, for example for auxiliary activities, professional purposes or for ‘physical and mental recovery’. The use of public transport will also only be permitted during this period for the reasons mentioned above.
“Entering leisure facilities is to be prohibited. These include swimming pools, dance schools, cinemas, theatres and betting shops. Parks, libraries, museums and zoos are to remain open. Events are to be cancelled. Only professional sport would be allowed to continue in November, but only as a purely TV event, they say. Wedding ceremonies, congresses and cultural events will be banned. Exceptions will continue to be made for the private sector, and demonstrations will continue to be permitted. For funerals 50 persons are allowed. Artistic performances without an audience shall remain permitted.
“For business premises, such as shops and shopping centres, but also for beauty parlours or hairdressers, there should be a maximum number of persons; ten square metres of space must be available per customer. This also applies to markets, but not to churches — where the distance rule applies.
“As far as the catering sector is concerned, the following is planned: After the initial idea that restaurants could stay open during the day, they will now be completely closed to guests. Take-away and deliveries should continue to be possible. This does not apply to catering establishments in nursing homes or schools. Food and drink can still be sold in accommodation establishments, but consumption must take place in the accommodation unit.
“The few remaining hotel guests must also return home: Tourist accommodation should also be banned. In hotels, for example, those travelling on business, those who have no accommodation or those who have to provide assistance there are still allowed to stay.
“Restrictions are to be imposed on sport: Physical contact sports should be prohibited. Entering sports facilities is also prohibited. Exceptions are to be made for outdoor sports. Events at which only top athletes take part in sports are permitted in closed rooms with up to 100 athletes and in open air areas with up to 200 athletes.
“In old people’s homes and nursing homes, testing is to be encouraged: Staff should be tested twice a week, and an antigen test should also be required for visits. Only one person per resident may visit each day.
“The entire regulation is to expire on 30 November.” 


  • Brian says:

    Sensible measures. If only the U.S. government had an adult in charge, the situation wouldn’t be spiraling out of control as it is.

    Austrian culture will probably be back in business by the holidays while the U.S. limps along for many more months.

    • Jessica Pastrami says:

      Agreed. Thank God we will finally have an adult in charge starting next January instead of a literal orange bag of Doritos! Biden will shut down the virus!

      • Penelope Insect says:

        Biden will do nothing other than cancel Christmas and ruin the lives of our children for generations to come. I’m no fan of El Naranja but is Biden really the better option? When will a legitimate Libertarian candidate come along, someone like Rand Paul or Ron Swanson?

        A girl can dream…

        • Anon says:

          Penelope, we needed one candidate – ONE – in order to have a sure shot at defeating Trump. Dividing the vote among several parties, or candidates, as worthy as they might be, would split the vote & make a Trump victory more likely. There was no one perfect candidate for that role. We chose to put our votes behind Biden because he is the mostly likely to appeal to enough people to win more votes than Trump. Maybe he’s not perfect but he is not Trump & he is the person with the greatest chance of defeating Trump. A Libertarian candidate, in addition to the Dem & Repub candidates. would insure a Trump victory. It’s simple math.

          And last time I looked, Rand Paul is officially a Republican, not a Libertarian, despite claims to his personal belief system.

          If you’ve watched any of Rand Paul’s moronic attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, you might have 2nd thoughts. An opthomologist challenging the country’s foremost immunologist with pseudoscience on the subject of COVID. Go figure. . .

          Here’s one report:

          • Penelope Insect says:

            Thank you for posting this article, Anon. Upon review I must say you make a compelling point and I am inclined to change my views. Thank you for taking the time to inform me of a different perspective in such a productive way. It upsets me that so many people object to your post. Hopefully they will take the time to read and learn as well!

          • Anon says:

            Why thank you, Penelope! What a lovely & refreshing reply! Most people discussing politics these days in the US seem unable to consider any point of view but their own. I truly appreciate that you’ve taken a moment to consider mine. You sound like a thoughtful & open minded person, and your elegant & polite response gave me hope & lifted my spirits! 🙂

          • Anon says:

            Thanks for the concern about the “down thumbs” on my original post. I’m not offended. There is a wide international readership here. Trump has a lot of supporters who are not US citizens. I’d say that these foreign Trump supporters are probably the downthumbers. And who knows, maybe there are some random US Trump supporters in those downthumbs, too, although I never took the KKK or the Proud Boys for classical music aficionados.

            My understanding is that many non-US citizens like Trump because with their extremely basic knowledge of what they THINK he stands for, he appeals to the far right movement sweeping parts of Europe, especially Eastern Europe. They think somehow he is going to protect nationalism & save Europe from sub-saharan migrants or something.

            Who knows what they think he stands for? It has absolutely nothing to do with what’s going on in the US. Trump is running for President of the US, not president of some conflicted European nation. You notice the downthumbers are not commenting because many don’t speak English. They are voyeurs, opining on an election in a country which is not their own. And many of his supporters in the US aren’t much better. Trump’s US base is mostly white, rural, non-college educated Evangelical Christians who are only capable of expressing themselves in tired platitudes which they usually misspell. I throw down the gauntlet to anyone who downthumbed my original comment to defend Trump articulately.

            And to foreign Trump supporters: you are aligning yourselves with the KKK, hate groups, racism, cuts to programs help the elderly & ill, the elimination of health care for US citizens, the end to Social Security pensions for retirees & much more. You are empowering evil. We are not butting into your country’s elections to tell you who WE want to be your president, so STAY THE HELL OUT OF OUR ELECTIONS IN THE US.

          • Greg Bottini says:

            Thank you, Anon! Well said!

          • Hayne says:

            But on the other hand, the US can interfere in other countries…


        • Tiredoditall says:

          You can dream until you wake up.

      • Phillip Djibouti says:

        Dear Ms (Mrs?) Pastrami.
        All of the artists lives are at stake. The senior citizens have lived good lives, its time for the younger generations to enjoy concerts. This will be the death of all art. How dare you. I’m happy to sacrifice my grand/great grandparents for the music of Motzart and Chaikofsky to live on. Quit being so unbelievably selfish. I have been following your posts and they are despicable. Go educate yourself on music.
        Kind regards,

        • Jessica Pastrami says:

          Keep worshiping at the literal Trumpicana orange juice alter! You’ll see that Biden is the strong stable leadership we need. Mask up or pack up.

        • Greg Bottini says:

          “The senior citizens have lived good lives, its time for the younger generations to enjoy concerts….I’m happy to sacrifice my grand/great grandparents for the music of Motzart and Chaikofsky to live on.”
          I have questions for you, Philip Djibouti:
          Q1: Are you KIDDING ME with this crazy bul***t?
          Q2: Are you effing insane?
          Q3) What the hell is WRONG with you?
          (A: 1-no 2-yes 3-see 2)
          This has got to be the most hare-brained, pinheaded drivel I have ever read on this blog, and that’s saying a lot.
          This blithering, deluded idiot is saying – well, I can hardly improve on the original: “I’m happy to sacrifice my grand/great grandparents for the music of Motzart and Chaikofsky to live on.”
          He is actively championing the deaths of older people simply so that he may enjoy his “Motzart”.
          This Phillip Djibouti person must have been dropped on his head when he was a child.
          To those of you who upvoted this insane gibberish: take a look at yourself. A long, long, look. And then go away.

        • Anon says:

          Hi, Phil. Just a neutral observer here, but maybe it’s you who should educate yourself on music. Like how to spell Mozart correctly. And there are plenty of alternate spellings for Tchaikovsky but I don’t think “Chaikofsky” is one of them. Just sayin.

      • Eli says:

        Holidays 2021 you mean

    • Peter says:

      Agree. Holidays 2021, that is.

    • Christopher Culver says:

      “Austrian culture will probably be back in business by the holidays…”

      …only to possibly be shut down again by another lockdown later in the winter. The outlook in Europe seems to be that alternating cycles of opening things up and then restricting them again, is likely to continue all the way through the wide distribution of a working vaccine.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Have you looked at data on life expectancy in the USA alongside the major demographic affected by Covid-19? Do you understanding that obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease have their highest rates in the USA? There was always going to be an opportunity cost for that kind of health compromise amongst the citizens. If you think shutting down your economy is going to drive Covid-19 away I’d say “good luck with that”.

      • Alter Frager says:

        I‘d be interested to see Sue‘s virology credentials. So much opinion so little sense

      • Doc Martin says:

        Please refrain from commenting on anything remotely medical, you are not a clinician.

        • Brettermeier says:

          “Please refrain from commenting on anything remotely medical, you are not a clinician.”

          Or anything economy-related if you’re not an economist.

          • Boz says:

            An economist knows very little at all, a pseudoscience.

          • Brettermeier says:

            “An economist knows very little at all, a pseudoscience.”

            Yeah, that’s exactly why I said what I said. I don’t know where you pulled the confidence from to state such BS, but my guess would be that it’s not the sunniest place on earth. 😉

          • Hayne says:

            “Or anything economy-related if you’re not an economist.”
            Now that’s funny!

    • Garech de Brun says:

      If I had the misfortune to live in the US, I could not vote for either Trump or Biden, the odd voting system, they have, the chads scandal etc makes it look like a fiddle, you need proportional representation or first past the post.
      I doubt Biden could solve cov-19 any better/worse than Trump.

    • James Madison says:

      Yeah, the lockdowns in Europe have really worked wonderfully, haven’t they?

      Most Americans believe that we must all take precautions – particularly with the vulnerable. This duty is personal, and it is local.

      But we don’t support draconian federal rules that infringe upon civil liberties. We trust ourselves, and we trust our friends and neighbors, to do the right thing. We don’t need a massive federal bureaucracy to lock us inside and look after us like children.

    • Kiss My Arts says:

      I would doubt it, cov-19 will be bugging us ad nauseum.

  • Anon says:

    Vienna Philharmonic will be touring Japan during the month of November. Convenient!

  • Doc Martin says:

    Yes it looks bad. Here is some data for UK.
    A “leaked” Sage report estimates 85,000 deaths over Winter UK (Worst Case)

    Mid-October, there were between 43,000 and 74,000 new infections per day

    Consensus statement from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) for the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

    R = 1.3 and 1.5 In England, breaching the number of infections and hospital admissions in the Reasonable Worst Case planning scenario

    Infection survey, 17 to 23 October 2020 (ONS)

    Prevalence, 568,100
    About 1 in 100 people
    9.52 new COVID-19 infections for every 10,000 people
    Increases in all age groups over the past two weeks
    Older teenagers and young adults, highest current rates
    Rates appear to be steeply increasing secondary school age North West, Yorkshire, Humber North East, levelled off now
    51,900 new cases per day

    Prevalence, 26,100
    One in 120 people

    Northern Ireland
    Prevalence, 24,300
    One in 150

    Prevalence, 37,400
    Positivity rate 0.71%
    One in 140 people

    UK total prevalence, 655,900 (ONS)

    Deaths, 9 – 16 October (week 42)

    England and Wales

    Deaths registered was 10,534 up 580 from week 41 6.8% (669 deaths higher) than five-year average

    The number would have to get to 1,200 deaths above the norm to be classified as “excess” above random expected variations 670 certificates mentioned coronavirus representing 6.4% of all deaths.

    An increase of 232 deaths compared with Week 41, (438 deaths or 4.4% of all deaths)
    The numbers of deaths in hospitals remained below the five-year average

    Deaths involving COVID-19 in hospitals, 8.4% of all hospitalised deaths Patients currently hospitalised with COVID

    Covid symptom tracker app is consistent with ONS data, Imperial College figure over estimated.
    Week 42 ending 16 October 10,364 England & Wales up 580 since week 41.
    Deaths (ONS) some data pending update from death certificates, 6.8% higher than 5 year average for October, but number would have to get to 1,200 deaths above the norm to be classified as excess above random expected variations.
    Note: The media often report data badly need to verify from ONS data which is reliable.

    UK GOV data (Ending 16 October)
    Deaths within 28 days of positive test
    Deaths with Cov-19 on death certificate

    Deaths are rising but not as significantly as cases and hospitalisations,
    Case fatality rate is decreasing
    670 certificates mentioning Cov-19, representing 6.4% of all deaths slightly higher than US.

    An increase of 232 deaths compared with week 41 (432 deaths or 4.4% of all deaths)

    Deaths involving Cov-19 in hospitals, 8.4% of all hospitalised deaths
    Number of deaths in hospital remains below 5 year average, suggests more dying at home and Care homes.

    This is very concerning, patients developing Covid pneumonia, may have many other conditions not being hospitalised, potentially treatable accounting for deaths at home.

    If you know anyone living alone, please check on them and alert their GP if necessary.
    If you are in distress let people know there will be someone to help. If you have an underlying condition please contact your GP for advice. Thank you.
    Please follow Dr John Campbell’s youtube blog for Cov-19

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      It will be the first time in human history where deaths of people in care homes have made the news.

      • Doc Martin says:

        Wrong, there has been well publicised on ongoing care home scandals of abuse involving unexplained deaths in UK and Ireland for years, try to keep up please before commenting.

    • Garech de Brun says:

      Clearly the idiotic fools who marked you down, Doc are just plain ignorant.

      Cov-19 is obviously not going for a month of Sundays, within EU most likely we will be in a similar situation in Nov 2021!

  • Greg Bottini says:

    The headline should read:

    • S says:

      Calling concerts „ego-driven events“ seems to be quite an achievement on a classical music blog… but I understand, that everybody can have his or her opinion about this topic. However, I want to add that not a single infection in Austria seemed to have happened in a theatre or concert hall due to the safety concepts of those venues. People attending concerts right now submit themselves to the strictest rules possible in order to enjoy finest musical art and (believe it or not), arts might be their passion more than anything else. So, I am very happy you care about saving lives. But you might be way more successful somewhere else than in those ego-driven events…

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I’ll eat my hat, shoes and sox if this stops Covid 19 in its tracks. Hint: the virus is going NOWHERE. But the civil society and economy certainly are.

    • Doc Martin says:

      You are like the blindfolded man in a darkened room, searching for a black cat. To do nothing will make it worse.

      If the pandemic has taught anything to world leaders it is that we are all dependent on each other rich or poor, money is not important, human life is.

  • Mossy Flood says:

    This reminds of the story of the Shop by Seamus O’Rourke.
    Everything is closing down.

  • Tomas says:

    Weddings are banned but 50 people can turn up at funerals… how very Viennese

  • Vincent Mouret says:

    I am not sure the picture is very appropriate.

  • Augustin says:

    Without its culture Austria becomes just Germany.

    • Penelope Insect says:

      That’s a remarkably incendiary comment, sir and/or madam.

      However, it is also hilarious and I am inclined to agree. Take my upvote, you scoundrel.

    • Garech de Brun says:

      Music is only ONE aspect of culture.

      There is a marked difference between Austrians and Germans, in their language and customs, similar to Irish and the British (English). The Hapsburgs ruled much of Germany before Germany became a nation state.

  • Doc Martin says:

    Here is Dr John Campbell’s update on the cov-19 pandemic in US. He cites references in his data sets.

    • Geezer says:

      Clearly Doc the Yanks do not like to be told they have made a complete bollix of cov-19. Looking at JC’s data it looks like it’s in the US to stay.

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    It was to be expected. People walked since June around in Vienna as if nothing happened: people wore a mask in the public transport and in shops again since a few weeks ago, but cafes, restaurantes etc. (particularly those with outdoor sitting) were packed and rarely one could see a person walking in the street with a mask (just go to Mariahilfer Straße!). Hundreds of people desmostrated against the Corona measures (most of them not wearing a mask). Parties in private residencies had not stopped. Now we all have to suffer the consecuences of the lack of personal responsability of so many people.
    Now what?

    Thank you, selfish *******s!