We spent roughly 6 weeks in lockdown due to the corona virus in Austria. When corona restrictions came into place, we had a few days to finish up work and make a decision as to what our plan was. Do we stay here and try and ride this pandemic out or do we leave our van stranded and head on home to Australia?
We both were not keen on the idea of cutting our trip short, but we were concerned about our health and safety. When the campsite, we had called home for the last 4 months, told us that we had to leave, we were shattered. Our first thought was, we will be fine, we can just stealth camp for a few weeks and get by. As the campsite closing date came closer, we realised that this was not a smart option. We knew we could survive but we didn’t know how bad the situation could get and we definitely did not want to get caught out and have to leave our van, Tommy, in the middle of no-where or risk our own health and safety for that matter.
Thankfully, during our time living and working in Kitzbühel, Austria, we had met some really lovely people who invited us to come and live in their backyard as long as we needed. We gratefully accepted their generous offer and this is where we spent the entire lockdown period and will continue to stay until it is safe for us to leave and return to the campsite or head on or way to our next destination.
The initial lockdown meant that all shops, with the exemption of essential services, were forced to close and everyone was to self-isolate at home and social distance until told otherwise.
Roughly 1 week into the lockdown, the situation here in Tirol, Austria, took a turn for the worse and restrictions were introduced that you could no longer leave your current town/village unless, it did not have the essential store or service you required. Fines were introduced so if you were stopped by the police and had no valid reason to be travelling, you would be fined on the spot.
When these restrictions came into place, we were really nervous. Nervous about having to drive to the supermarket, to get petrol, to go to the chemist or wherever it might be we needed to go. We knew our Andorran number plates were already a red flag in normal times, so we knew for sure at some point, we would be pulled over and questioned by the authorities.
We weren’t wrong. A few weeks into the lockdown, we were grocery shopping, the van was parked out the front and the police came into the store looking for us. They wanted to know where we were coming from, where we were headed and why we were here etc. Lucky for us, we were and are doing nothing wrong. When we explained our current situation and that we were staying in town and had been here since December they were satisfied and let us go on our way. To say we were relieved once they left is an understatement. Even though we are here on a visa, it’s a touchy time and some have the view we should have headed home to Australia.
Our thoughts are, the chances of us contracting corona virus on our way home to Australia, were much higher than if we stayed put and self-isolated. Travelling through multiple airports at a time like this seemed just crazy to us and was just asking for trouble. Trouble to our own health and then trouble putting our families at risk once we were home.
We spent approximately 4 weeks in corona lockdown. We only left the yard to get groceries, fuel up, get medical supplies or go for a walk. It sounds like torture but it was actually the complete opposite. Luckily, winter was over and it was the start of spring here. This meant beautiful, pleasant and sunny days spent outdoors, enjoying the warmer weather, taking in the amazing views Austria has to offer, all whilst enjoying each-others company. We had spent the last 4 months, working, with a few days off a week to spend together if we were lucky enough, so it was refreshing to have some quality time together to relax and unwind.
Don’t get me wrong, we had a few days, when we felt trapped or over it, but it was nothing in the scheme of things and it didn’t take long for us to get over it and back to appreciating all that we have. I might add, that these days of doom and gloom, were generally days when the weather was terrible outside, forcing us to spend most of the day indoors. I found the key to getting out of a slump was to take a walk, get some fresh air and look around, open your eyes and really take in all that nature has to offer. I instantly felt 100 times better.
After sticking it out in lockdown for 4 weeks, there was finally a sign of light at the end of the tunnel, here in Austria. On the 14th of April, following Easter, restrictions eased slightly. Hardware stores, small shops and nurseries were allowed to re-open. You could now travel outside your area, no questions asked. It was mandatory to wear a face mask and social distance still, but life got a touch more normal. For us, this was perfect timing. With hardware stores being open, us still not working and now having a place to work on the van, we jumped at the opportunity and decided to do some renovations on our little home on wheels. We spent the following 9 days, pulling our home apart to replace the ceiling and walls as well as improve our kitchen area and bedding situation. This was a massive bonus for us, as we had been planning on hopefully getting this done somewhere over the next 6 months, but had no idea where or when. This made for a very productive end to corona lockdown for us.
On the 2nd of May, restrictions were yet again eased, allowing all other shops to re-open and return to normal business. The only shops/facilities excluded from this were cafes, restaurants, hotels and gyms. These are due to re-open at the end of May.
All going well, by the start of June, life here in Austria, will be looking a lot more normal. It will obviously, take a lot more time for businesses to recover and for us all to be able to socialise as we were, but its looking positive.
We feel so blessed and truly grateful to have been here in Kitzbühel at this time, to have amazing friends, to have a home and to have kept healthy and safe during this rocky time. It sure has made our love for the Kitzbühel region and Austria strong. We will never forget this place and will be forever thankful to have been quarantined here.