Austria plans to ban coronavirus face shields

Austria wants to encourage people to wear close-fitting masks instead of plastic face shields because authorities believe they do not offer enough protection.

Austria plans to ban coronavirus face shields
Face shields are especially popular in gastronomy and beauty services. Photo: OLI SCARFF / AFP

The government wants to see the semi-open face visors often used by staff in restaurants and shops disappear  from use gradually, it has emerged

According to the Kurier newspaper, a draft of the new Corona Regulation, due to come into force on Friday, says that in future, visors will no longer be recognised as protective devices in Austria.

In principle, anti-corona masks must be “covering” and “close-fitting” wherever masks are compulsory.

In the explanatory notes it stated: “The background is consolidated evidence that face shields in particular do not have an aerosol-inhibiting effect compared to classical masks.

“Mechanical protection devices such as ‘face shields’ or ”mini face shields’ have thus proved unsuitable for preventing the spread of Covid-19 and are therefore now prohibited.”

‘Mini Face Shields’ refers to the chin shields, which are particularly popular with waiters and waitresses because they can be more comfortable than traditional masks.

Although Austria’s new coronavirus rules are coming into force from midnight Friday October 23rd, there is to be a short transition period for face shields so that people can prepare for the ban, reports the Kurier.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Austria’s new coronavirus measures

There will be exceptions to the rule for people who can’t wear close-fitting masks for health reasons.

In September a US study found that face shields offer the least protection against infection. The simulation showed that while coughing and sneezing blocked the forward movement of the droplets, the aerosols were still distributed around the visor in the room.

Other measures due to come into force in Austria include a minimum distance of one metre in public and making masks compulsory at all indoor and outdoor events.

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EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

Austria's capital city Vienna has begun registration appointments for those who want to get a monkeypox vaccine. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

As of September 9th, people can make reservations for monkeypox vaccination in Vienna, authorities announced. It is possible to register for the vaccine using the health service line by calling 1450 or via the Impfservice website.

The City of Vienna has said the pre-registration is needed because all planning will be done through a central system due to a shortage of vaccines.

“Please understand that due to the vaccine shortage, we cannot offer preventive monkeypox vaccination to everyone interested. We can use the reservation platform to quickly allocate available appointments and contact interested parties as soon as there are more vaccines”, the authorities said.

After the registration, people will be contacted to book appointments on September 14th. The first available date will be September 19th.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Who should be vaccinated against monkeypox?

Vaccination of the general population is currently not recommended.

Preventive vaccination is only offered to health care workers with a very high risk of exposure to people with monkeypox (designated monkeypox departments/outpatient clinics/offices) and persons with individual risk behaviour (persons with frequently changing sexual contacts), the City of Vienna said.

The health authorities in Vienna also have a specific information sheet in English with more information on the disease.

Monkeypox is a notifiable disease caused by a virus closely related to the smallpox virus and which can cause a condition similar to smallpox but rarely deadly. People with immunodeficiencies, pregnant women and children are at risk of more severe symptoms.

The virus spreads from person to person through contact with infectious skin lesions, via air droplets through speaking, coughing, sneezing, or other body fluids, and when having prolonged and close physical contact, e.g. through sexual intercourse.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Usually, the first symptoms show up 5 to 14 days (at the latest, 21 days) after exposure. These include fever, general exhaustion, headaches, muscle and body aches, gastrointestinal problems and frequently painfully swollen lymph nodes.

“If you have symptoms and have had contact with someone with monkeypox, you must self-isolate at once and call 1450. If you have a confirmed monkeypox infection, you need to stay in self-isolation until the last crust has fallen off”, the Austrian authorities added.