Why are anti-coronavirus protests allowed to continue in Austria?

Citing rising numbers and a complicated administrative process for when demonstrations should be broken up, police in Vienna have called for this weekend’s anti-coronavirus protests to be banned.

Why are anti-coronavirus protests allowed to continue in Austria?
A man protects his bread at a coronavirus denier rally in Vienna. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Vienna police say there is a complicated administrative process for breaking up rallies – which requires them to secure the approval of health authorities before any protest can be stopped. 

As a result, police have called for upcoming protests – organised by the country’s growing coronavirus skeptic network – to be banned. 

Why are protests anti-coronavirus protests allowed to continue in Austria? 

Over the past few weeks, police at a number of rallies across Austria have refused to intervene, despite participants clearly ignoring distancing requirements and mask rules. 

At a protest in Vienna on Monday, October 26th, protesters burnt masks as police watched and failed to intervene. 

While political rallies – including those organised by coronavirus deniers – have continued to take place across Europe in recent months, most countries have put in place strict rules on numbers, social distancing, hygiene and mask requirements. 

In Austria although these rules exist, police have refused to intervene when rules have been broken – unlike in many neighbouring countries. 

Speaking with Austria’s Kurier newspaper, police said a magistrate needs to intervene to allow a rally to be broken up after consulting with health officials. 

“The current legal situation provides for an order from the health authorities to deal with assemblies,” said a police statement.

The City of Vienna has written to the Ministry of Health to delete the rule which states that the health authorities must be consulted. 

Ban demonstrations 'to protect the health of protesters'

With Austria set to announce its new coronavirus measures on Saturday, there are a number of demonstrations planned for the coming weekend. 

Police in Vienna have called for the protests to be banned for the benefit of those involved. 

Such an intervention would “curb a risk to the health and safety of everyone involved by tactical intervention.”

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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.