EXPLAINED: Austria’s new coronavirus lockdown measures

EXPLAINED: Austria's new coronavirus lockdown measures
Mannequins sit in an Austrian bar to encourage social distancing. Image: JOE KLAMAR / AFP
Austria has tightened its coronavirus measures, with a set of new requirements to apply from Sunday. Here’s what you need to know.

Despite putting in place a stricter set of lockdown rules to apply from Friday, October 23rd, Austria has further tightened lockdown requirements from October 25th, Kurier reports

From stricter rules on drinking in public to a return of Austria’s famous ‘baby elephant’, here’s what you need to know. 

Restrictions on groups

Cultural events will only be permitted to take place with assigned seats. 

MAPS: Where are Austria’s emerging coronavirus hotspots? 

At bars and restaurants, the largest number of people who can sit at a table has been reduced from 10 to six.

A maximum of six people are allowed indoors without assigned seating. Only 12 are allowed outdoors. 

While people under 18 do not count towards the tally, the overall number may not exceed six. 

This is at all publicly-accessible gatherings – it includes public parks and fitness studios. 

Private gatherings have a ‘voluntary’ limit of six people. Kurz told the media on Monday that the requirement in private homes was not legally enforceable at this stage. 

“The legal regulation is very clear. Noise pollution is one reason that the police can take action, but the meeting alone cannot,” Kurz said. 

Distance

One metre of distance must be kept in public spaces between everyone, unless the people come from the same household. 

After being rejected by an Austrian court and becoming only a recommendation, the one-metre distance is again a ‘legally binding’ requirement. 

This has been discussed in Austrian media as the ‘return of the baby elephant’. During the first wave of the pandemic, Austria sought to encourage participation with the social distancing requirement by telling people to stay ‘a baby elephant apart’. 

People are now legally required to stay a baby elephant’s distance apart from each other in public, provided that elephant is one-metre long. 

Events

Food and drink is banned at all events that run less than three hours – however food and drink can only be served to people who are seated. Buffets are also banned. 

Events will also have a cap on the amount of attendees. 

Indoor events will be capped at 1,000 people – while outdoor events will have a maximum of 1,500 in attendance. 

All events over 250 people require authorisation.

A maximum of 100 people can attend funerals – a reduction of the previous limit of 500. 

Alcohol in public

Alcohol cannot be consumed within 50 metres of venues which sell alcohol.

This includes petrol stations, bars and restaurants, as well as snack bars and kiosks. 

Masks required in indoor public spaces

Masks must be worn in all enclosed public spaces. 

One important change this week is that masks “must fit snugly”. 

This means that other forms of face protection – for instance plastic face shields – will not suffice. 

READ: Austria plans to ban coronavirus face shields 

Aged-care facilities 

Masks must be worn everywhere in all aged-care facilities. 

All new and re-admitted residents must be tested for the virus. 

Visits to hospitals and palliative care facilities have not been restricted, with officials saying they want to avoid “undue hardship”. Visits musts be made with masks. 

The Austrian government also said it was up to state governments to put in place stricter requirements if they deemed it necessary.


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