Updated on 28 April 2020
With regard to the protective measures in force for new entrants, it is additionally stated that transfers from one prison to another are not to be classified as new entrants. However, this only applies if the inmate in the last prison has not been granted any exits in the last 4 weeks prior to transfer, if no further executions have been carried out and if the inmate is completely unobtrusive with regard to any symptoms. With regard to a possible antibody test, the Chief Medical Service of the General Directorate must be consulted in any case. In all other cases, the inmate must be classified as a new arrival.
With 01.04.2020 the regular transport of inmates with large-capacity buses has been stopped. Any Transfers must be reported in advanced to the Directorate General. Urgent, non-postponable transport will take place in small buses under application Hygiene and safety measures.
Since 28 April 2020 there is a new regulation in place . This means that the restricted visitation of inmates will be possible again from 11 May 2020.
Several visitors may not be allowed to visit a prisoner at the same time, except for a visitor under 14 years of age and his adult companion.
The order issued on 12 March 2020, according to which all further educational events of the Prison Service Academy are suspended until 13 April 2020, is extended until the end of 31 May 2020.
Inmates who are no longer able to work due to the situation are offered alternative employment.
Prisoners affected by plant closures receive compensation.
Establishment of a group system. Within the groups, small units are formed to work together as constantly as possible. This allows a separation of the guards from each other. Staff from a common household may not be divided into different groups. The risk of infection is thus further minimised.
The prison staff is key personnel (persons of special importance for the system).
Staff have been made aware of their obligation to report immediately if they experience symptoms indicating infection or have had close contact with an infected person or suspected case within the last 14 days.
Irrespective of the classification of prison staff as key personnel, the self-quarantine may only be terminated prematurely if the staff member shows no symptoms whatsoever and this requires compelling reasons of service. To this end, staff in self-quarantine must be available and contact the prison at regular intervals. Special attention must be drawn to the obligation to report the occurrence of symptoms and to the general duties of conduct (above all keeping a distance, hygiene measures, self-monitoring) in the event of early entry into active service.
The monthly hours to be worked (working hours) must be kept as low as possible by the planning department. The obligation to be present is rather based on the mandatory requirements of the service and is to be determined by the management of the institution.
Prisons belong to the critical infrastructure. Prison employees are therefore not entitled to time off work. It follows from the employer’s duty of care that personnel from the Covid-19 risk group must be protected as well as possible against possible infection. The following procedure is bindingly defined for this purpose:
The Covid-19 risk group includes staff members who have reached the age of 60 or who, due to previous illnesses, present a Covid-19 risk certificate from their attending physician. If a medical certificate does not sufficiently reflect the risk analysis required for further employment, a medical examination (by the service authority) should be requested. After consultation with the doctor treating the staff member, the staff member should, if possible, refrain from a personal examination and the report should be drawn up on the basis of the findings submitted and the telephone interview with the staff member by the doctor.
In the case of staff assigned to the Covid-19 risk group, priority should be given to examining the possibility of arranging teleworking. If teleworking is not possible, any outstanding time credits and residual leave from previous years must be used up without exception before considering any leave of absence.
A temporary leave of absence from work, which is to be granted until revoked, is to be granted upon the request of the person concerned if the points 1 to 3 are fulfilled and only as long as there are no compelling business reasons that make it necessary to work in the prison.
If there are compelling business reasons that make it necessary to serve in the prison, the person concerned shall be called upon to perform business activities that are associated with the lowest possible risk of infection (above all, few personal contacts necessary, sufficient protective measures possible). The occupational physician is to be consulted when determining the tasks and the necessary protective measures. It is mandatory to wear a protective mask during the service. Special reference must be made to the general rules of conduct and hygiene measures (above all keeping distance, hand, mouth and face hygiene). All exemptions already granted must be re-examined in the light of these criteria and treated accordingly.
Staff members who belong to the Covid-19 risk group due to age (60+) or the existence of previous illnesses will be deployed accordingly, taking this circumstance into account, or have to perform telework including on-call duty.
These staff members shall be considered as a reserve in case of emergency.
The prisons have to collect used FFP2 and FFP3 protective masks. The masks are Reprocess for new use in the Vienna General Hospital.
All staff members and inmates are to be equipped with the surgical masks available in the prisons according to the respective circumstances and possibilities and with explicit consideration to maintain a sufficiently large stock. As soon as possible, these masks are to be replaced by mouth-nose protection masks produced by the prisons.
All staff members on duty should wear an appropriate mask as far as possible.
For the time being, one mask per day should be used, and two masks per day for particularly long and intensive (in terms of contacts) service.
Inmates must always wear surgical masks or mouth-nose masks for a period of four weeks after being transferred from the access department when leaving their detention room. One mask per day is calculated.
In this connection, reference is again made to the instructions of the General Directorate in the dispatch of 23 March 2020 (points 2. and 4.), which remain unaffected by the present regulation and can therefore justify the use of surgical masks beyond this period if necessary.
The sewn protective masks from our own production are to be reused after removal of the filter insert. The masks have to be changed daily and they can be boiled out. Each staff member have to be equipped with a set of five sewn protective masks. If the masks cleaning cannot be carried out in the Prison or externally, they are to be prepared privately for reuse.
Stricter protective measures, e.g. in the isolated access departments, in the infirmarys and at the new admission, remain unaffected.
All Prisons are requested to restart or expand the production of sewn protective masks in their own facilities in accordance with the applicable standards and in consultation with the Budget- and Economic Department in the General Directorate and the prison doctors.
In addition, the Directorate-General has also notified the need for protective masks of various classes, gloves, protective suits, etc. for the prisons in the framework of the State crisis and disaster management (critical infrastructure). Other sources of supply were also requested for procurement.
In view of the increased hygiene measures, the prison management is requested to provide the inmates with more hygiene articles in simple design (primarily soaps).
Fixed non-contact disinfectant dispensers must be installed at heavily frequented locations (e.g. next to elevators or permanently installed telephone devices for occupants) as well as at all sanitary facilities for staff, with the best possible avoidance of any risk of misuse. Care must be taken to ensure regular and timely refilling.
If inmates are involved in the processing, production or distribution of food, the strictest hygiene regulations shall also apply to them (in particular, at present, the use of a mouth and nose mask).
According to a decree of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the detained person must wear a mouth-nose mask when being admitted to prisons. If the prisoner is refused the wearing of a mask, the prison must be informed of this prior to admission.
The social services staff in the prisons must provide information to the inmates and their relatives regarding the interpretation of the provisions on special precautions in the area of the Prison Act.
For any further questions regarding the procedures in the state of emergency taken by the Federal Ministry of Justice of Austria please contact the following:
Mag. Dr. Margit Winterleitner (Chief physician)
Alexander Fabi (Chief inspector)
Federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice of Austria
Supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union