World News

Austria issues travel warnings for Bulgaria, Romania over coronavirus

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria is issuing travel warnings for Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova because of the worsening coronavirus situation in those countries and clusters in Austria involving people connected to the region, the government said on Wednesday.

The move, which means arrivals from those countries must show a negative test or go into two weeks’ quarantine, follows warnings last week for Serbia and three other non-European Union countries in the Western Balkans. Romania and Bulgaria, by contrast, are EU member states.

It also comes as more than 3,000 people in the province of Upper Austria, which borders Germany and the Czech Republic, have been placed in quarantine to contain an outbreak there. At the centre of that outbreak is a cluster of 180 cases linked to a church in the city of Linz with many Romanian parishioners.

“Please do not travel to these countries. That is our urgent appeal, as on the one hand it means putting one’s health at risk and on the other we have seen that there are ever more imported cases from these states,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference with Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

In recent weeks in Austria, roughly 170 cases have been detected that were connected to a foreign country and the bulk were linked to “the Balkans”, Kurz said, adding that checks at the borders with Hungary and Slovenia would be doubled.

Unusually, Kurz spelled out the quarantine requirements and the penalties for breaching them, adding: “That is unfortunately necessary because we saw in particular recently in Upper Austria that people who had tested positive did not stick to the quarantine requirements and thus put other people in danger.”

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Alex Richardson