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Coronavirus – Competences of public authorities / measures taken on the basis of the Epidemics Act 1950 (Epidemiegesetz 1950)

As of: 19.03.2020

Infectious diseases must be contained. To this end, the Austrian Epidemics Act (Epidemiegesetz 1950) provides for
  • an obligation to notify the competent authorities,
  • an obligation of the competent authorities to immediately undertake surveys and investigations necessary to identify the disease and the source of infection,
  • an obligation of the infected person, suspected of being infected or other persons who may contribute to the surveys to provide the necessary information,
  • an authorisation of the competent authorities to take measures to prevent and control notifiable diseases.

By decree of the competent Federal Minister, Federal Law Gazette II No 15/2020, suspected cases, illnesses and deaths of 2019-nCoV ("2019 novel coronavirus") are also classified as infectious diseases under the Austrian Epidemics Act. This allows the Austrian authorities to take the following precautions to combat the spread of COVID-19 in particular the precautions set out below for the duration of the risk of infection.

For each (suspected) case of COVID-19, the competent health authorities must initiate the surveys and investigations necessary to determine the disease and the source of infection. This includes, among other things, the management of personal contacts (§ 5 leg cit). To ensure a uniform approach to these surveys and investigations throughout Austria, the competent Federal Minister has issued two decrees.

a) Decree No. 2020-0.138290 aiming at determining the responsibilities under the Epidemics Act 1950 (Enclosure 1) and the official procedure for SARS-CoV-2 contact persons (Enclosure 2):





b) Decree No. 2020-0.143.421 aiming at a uniform approach to the management of personal contacts:





The essential precautions for preventing the further spread of infectious diseases set out in the Epidemics Act 1950 are briefly described below. In addition, the specific precautions to combat the spread of COVID-19 on the basis of §§ 7 ff of the Epidemics Act 1950 are presented in an overview.
 

1.
Quarantine of sick individuals - § 7

Measures taken so far

  • Amendment to the Ordinance on the quarantine of the sick, suspected sick and infected persons and the designation of houses and apartments (Federal Law Gazette II No. 21/2020).

 

2.
Disinfection (of objects and rooms which are suspected of being contaminated with germs of an infectious disease) - § 8

3.
Exclusion of individual persons from educational institutions - § 9

4.
Blocking of apartments, ban on funeral ceremonies - § 12

5.
Measures against the gathering of large crowds of people - § 15





With the above internal administrative instruction (Erlass), the Federal Minister of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection instructed the competent local administrative authorities (health authorities) to prohibit, by decree, all events in their area of activity which involve the gathering of large crowds of people, namely more than 500 persons outside closed rooms or in the open air or more than 100 persons in a closed room. This applies, for example, to events which are to be held in companies, businesses, schools (e.g. school trips), in higher education establishments, pre-school facilities, nursing homes, for religious purposes or in tourist facilities and places of interest.

The prohibition does not include, inter alia, meetings of general representative bodies (National Council, Federal Council, provincial parliaments, etc.), of the organs of territorial authorities under public law, within the framework of public administration, organs of the public security service, the armed forces, rescue organisations and the fire brigade, in establishments for the maintenance of health care, in connection with the satisfaction of the basic needs of public life (food retail, shopping centres, catering establishments mainly authorised to serve food, etc.), in accordance with obligations under international law, the work activity in companies, work meetings and public transport, as well as the facilities and installations directly belonging to the company.

Corresponding ordinances have been or are currently being issued by the enforcement authorities. Example: City of Vienna:





6.
Specific notification requirements - § 16/ monitoring of certain persons - § 17

Measures taken so far

  • Ordinance of the Federal Minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection on the Notification of Air Passengers (Federal Law Gazette II No. 75/2020 as amended by Federal Law Gazette II No. 88/2020).

7.
Closure of educational facilities - § 18





With the above internal administrative instruction (Erlass), the Federal Minister of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection instructed the competent local administrative authorities (health authorities) to order, by decree, that, in accordance with Section 18 of the Federal Epidemic Act 1950 (Epidemiegesetz 1950), restrictions must be imposed on the operation of kindergartens and day care centres: From 18 March 2020 until the beginning of the Easter holidays (3 April 2020), kindergartens will remain open, but as many children as possible are to be looked after at home (however, care services will not be completely discontinued).

This decree has meanwhile been implemented in the individual regions of Austria.

8.
Operating restrictions or closure of commercial operations - § 20

Measures taken so far 

  • Ordinance: Restriction of operations or closure of commercial enterprises in the event of the occurrence of infections with SARS-CoV-2 ("2019 novel coronavirus") and amendment of the Ordinance on the Transport of Persons Affected or Suspected of Infectious Diseases (Federal Law Gazette II No. 74/2020).

9.
Traffic restrictions for residents of certain municipalities - § 24

In the meantime, the authorities have also imposed access and departure restrictions on the inhabitants of the following villages:

  • In Tyrol: all 279 municipalities
  • In Vorarlberg: the municipality of Lech, the village of Zürs (municipality of Lech), the municipalities of Warth and Schröcken and the village of Stuben (municipality of Klösterle)
  • In Salzburg: the municipalities of Bad Hofgastein, Dorfgastein, Bad Gastein, Hüttschlag, Großarl und Flachau
  • In Carinthia: the municipality of Heiligenblut
     


10.
Restrictions on transport to foreign countries - § 25

Measures taken so far 

  • Ordinance of the Federal Minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection concerning the notification of flight passengers (BGBl. II Nr. 75/2020 as amended by Federal Law Gazette II No. 88/2020).
  • Ordinance of the Federal Minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection amending the Ordinance on measures for entry from SARS-CoV-2 risk areas (BGBl. II Nr. 80/2020 as amended by Federal Law Gazette II No. 89/2020).
  • Ordinance of the Federal Minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection concerning medical checks on entry in connection with the "2019 novel coronavirus" (Federal Law Gazette II No. 81/2020).
  •  Ordinance of the Federal Minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection on the landing ban for aircraft from SARS-CoV-2 risk areas (BGBl. II Nr. 83/2020  as amended by Federal Law Gazette II No. 109/2020).
  • Ordinance of the Federal Minister of Social Affairs, Health Care and Consumer Protection, on the discontinuation of rail transport to Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein due to the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 (Federal Law Gazette II No. 86/ 2020 as amended by Federal Law Gazette II No. 94/2020).
  • Ordinance of the Federal Minister of Social Affairs, Health Care and Consumer Protection, on measures concerning the entry from Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Hungary and Slovenia (Federal Law Gazette II No. 87/2020 as amended by Federal Law Gazette II No. 111/2020).
  • Ordinance of the Federal Minister of Social Affairs, Health Care and Consumer Protection, on measures concerning the entry into Austria by air (Federal Law Gazette II No 105/2020).
     

11.
Provisions relating to domestic transport establishments - § 26

12.
Epidemic doctors (appointment for the duration of the need) - § 27

13.
Measures regarding pathogens - § 28

 

 

Hinweis: Dieser Newsletter stellt lediglich eine generelle Information und keineswegs eine Rechtsberatung von Binder Grösswang Rechtsanwälte GmbH dar. Der Newsletter kann eine individuelle Rechtsberatung nicht ersetzen. Binder Grösswang Rechtsanwälte GmbH übernimmt keine Haftung, gleich welcher Art, für Inhalt und Richtigkeit des Newsletters.



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