Austria, which has already begun relaxing its coronavirus lockdown, said on Wednesday it would allow some sports that allow social distancing, like tennis and golf, to resume from May 1.
“Of course, individual sports where there is no immediate contact will be given priority more quickly over team sports where contact is generally unavoidable, or contact sports,” Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler, who is also sporting minister, told a news conference.
The country closed restaurants, bars, theatres, schools, non-essential shops, and other gathering places about a month ago. Since then, citizens have been told to stay at home and work from there if possible, although they have been allowed to go outdoors for exercise like running or cycling.
From May 1st, outdoor facilities such as athletics tracks, tennis courts, golf courses, equestrian centers, shooting ranges and archery ranges will be re-opened to the public. More dangerous outdoor sports like ski touring will also be permitted, but people are recommended to stick to “something easy” to avoid accidents.
- Related: UPDATE: 2,500 Coronavirus Victims Sign-Up for Class Action Lawsuit Against Austrian Ski Area
The Austrian province of Tirol, home to many ski areas, was at the center of controversy earlier this month for allegedly ignoring coronavirus cases at the beginning of March, potentially allowing the virus to spread to many thousands of people across Europe. Around 2,500 people have signed up to potentially join a class-action lawsuit against the Austrian ski resort at the center of a criminal investigation that seeks to pin the blame on local authorities for their handling of the outbreak, and by initially trying to bury it.
Austria has had 14,412 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 393 deaths. Comparitively, neighboring Germany and Italy have had 134,753 and 165,155 cases respectively, and 3,804 and 21,645 deaths.
Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a landlocked East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine federated states (Bundesländer), one of which is Vienna, Austria’s capital and its largest city. It is bordered by Germany to the northwest, the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia to the northeast, Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. Austria occupies an area of 32,386 sq mi and has a population of nearly 9 million people. While German is the country’s official language, many Austrians communicate informally in a variety of Bavarian dialects.