Ulrike Lunacek. Photo: Wikipedia.

Austrian Culture Minister Steps Down Following Criticism over Pandemic Response

Austrian Culture Minister Ulrike Lunacek tendered her resignation on Friday following backlash and frustration over her response to the Covid-19 pandemic, reports the Austria Press Agency. A member of the Green Party, Lunacek has only been in office for four months. Remarking on her decision to step down in a televised broadcast, Lunacek said: “I am making way for someone else who can hopefully achieve more than I have in this crisis situation.”

According to Reuters, a reopening plan announced on Friday will permit cultural events with up to one hundred people in attendance by June and events with one thousand people starting on August 1. Health Minister Rudolf Anschober called the move a “very big step” for Austria. The country successfully flattened the curve of the virus by implementing lockdown measures during the early stages of the crisis.

While select retail stores, restaurants, bars, churches, and museums were given the green light to resume operations in mid-May, institutions including the Belvedere will move forward cautiously. The museum will welcome visitors to the Lower Belvedere on May 15 but will not admit guests to its other buildings, the Upper Belvedere and Belvedere 21, until June 1 and July 1, respectively.  

Theaters and cinemas remain closed but may begin to reopen on July 1 as long as they implement capacity limits and other social distancing measures. Austria will reopen its shared borders with Germany and Switzerland on June 15.