Tobias Watzl

Programmer, photographer, engineer.

My Observations when Travelling in Times of Corona

Last week I went on a train trip. Here I want to report about my obeservation how people in Austria deal with Coronavirus.

Tobias Watzl

6-Minute Read

Note: This article has been translated mostly using Google Translate and manually been proofread afterwards. Still it is possible that mistakes might have slipped through.


The federal government’s restrictions are now being loosened gradually every two weeks.

I was on the road last weekend and would like to share my observations and experiences, as well as the resulting assessment for the next few months.

First of all I would like to say that I was either alone on the train or in a car for two. I stayed with family because the hotels are currently closed. Even if there are still offers on AirBnB. In addition, I have chosen my travel destination so that I can keep away from crowds as much as possible.

I’ve been traveling a lot by train in the past few days. At the moment, the trains are still somewhat empty. In pre-corona times it was still absolutely necessary to reserve a seat, but now you can easily find a seat. At weekends it is also easy to keep a generous safety distance of up to 3m. That was no longer possible on the return trip on Monday. 1m had to be enough.

The mask is an absolute must on the train.

The mask is an absolute must on the train.

If you watch other passengers it quickly becomes apparent that there are some people who unfortunately take the situation lightly. Above all, it is striking that some people do not wear the mouth-nose protection properly and, for example, the nose is not covered. Still others completely ignore the obligation to wear and talk unprotected during the one-hour train ride.

The top, however, was a train attendant in Pinzgau for whom it was apparently exempt from wearing. She herself was not wearing a protective mask or anything similar, and some of the passengers followed this model, since they were apparently not asked to wear a mask. If you are not following austrian news then I want to point out to you that this is actually against the current laws in place.

628/5000 In Niedernsill I enjoyed the nice weather in a cafe. There the waitress was wearing a plastic face shield and the tables were placed outside a few meters away. Infection should therefore be rather unlikely.

We were also alone when visiting the inn in the evening. The doors were open, so the dining room was well ventilated, the tables were disinfected after the guests left the restaurant.

You can roughly divide people into 3 groups. Those who do everything right, those who use the protective measures incorrectly out of ignorance and those who deliberately do not stick to them.


Of course, masks do not offer 100% protection. The obligation to wear masks is also repeatedly discussed and whether it makes sense to use them. There is always the argument that the masks are actually counterproductive because you only spread the germs when you touch your face. However, my argument is that you can prevent smear infection yourself by clever and conscious action. Do not touch your face on the way or wash your hands beforehand. Do not attack doorknobs or only open with the jacket or the doors with your feet or elbows and so on. However, you cannot prevent infection via the air you breathe, or only if you hold your breath during the entire 5-hour train ride.

In this respect, I think wearing a mask should be a matter of course. Even if the measures are relaxed in the near future, I will continue to wear a mask. When shopping, in the public transport and whenever I am in closed rooms where other people are.

Unfortunately, as already mentioned, there are many people who wear the masks incorrectly. In my opinion, this problem could be improved by targeted and extensive advertising for the correct wearing of masks. Unfortunately, it is not common in Austria to inform the population. However, it would be a good way to show people how to wear the masks correctly and that you can protect your fellow human beings. These advertisements must of course be carried out across the board. You will not reach certain population groups with advertising in print media, just as it will not be possible to address everyone via YouTube spots or Facebook advertising.

By the way, my opinion about the plastic signs is that they hardly help and masks should be preferred as far as possible. This is based on simple physics. While masks slow down the potentially infectious droplets and thus probably reduce the infectious radius, the air flow in the plastic signs and thus the droplets are only diverted according to the rules of fluid dynamics. The range of spread changes, but probably remains similar in volume.

Is your camera highly infectious?

Is your camera highly infectious?

I am aware that there are no scientific studies on these topics yet. In this respect, these words should be read with the necessary caution. Basically, however, I think that one should always hope for the best, but expect the worst, and so I also believe that it is justified to put forward my arguments here.

It is best to have the mask on before getting in.

It is best to have the mask on before getting in.

Another argument for the mask is that you automatically look at least twice as badass with a mask as without it. ;) :D


There is currently a lot of promotion for domestic tourism. The hotels have reopened this weekend. However, my trip showed that it is very difficult to keep up with activities for a day without making mistakes regarding wearing masks, keeping the distances and so on.

I hope that the reopening of tourism will not bring a new wave of infection. I also look with concern at the upcoming border openings. The free movement of goods and people is one of the cornerstones of the European Union, but I still believe that human health is paramount. And unfortunately, it is very difficult to reconcile free goods and passenger traffic with the need to track every individual case.

Austria also has beautiful holiday destinations to offer.

Austria also has beautiful holiday destinations to offer.

You should definitely consider whether it makes sense to take certain trips. For me it is relatively easy to answer. I live alone and have hardly any contacts with other people. Before my 3 day trip I was isolated and afterwards as well. Theoretically, it would be possible that I could have been infected, but I would have been infectious for at most one day. In addition, I had hardly any contact with other people during the trip, since I was traveling by car for 2 days. On the other hand, I naturally spent a lot of time on public transport, which is certainly not ideal. After 10 weeks at home, 3 days in the fresh air of motivation were very good. In the end it remains a balancing act when weighing between the pros and cons.

Stay Safe!

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