Teachers who refuse coronavirus tests in Austria ‘may be forced to wear FFP2 masks in classroom’

Teachers who refuse coronavirus tests in Austria 'may be forced to wear FFP2 masks in classroom'
Will teachers be able to control a classroom in an FFP2 mask? Photo: FRED DUFOUR / AFP
Under Austria’s coronavirus mass-testing scheme, teachers are to be tested in early January. While nobody can be forced to be tested, those who refuse may have to wear FFP2 coverings while teaching.

Austria’s mass testing scheme will kick off in the first week of December, with all teachers in schools and kindergartens along with police officers to be tested. 

The scheme kicks off in two phases. 

On Saturday, December 5th and Sunday, December 6th, all state and federal teachers as well as kindergarten supervisors will be tested. That will add up to around 200,000 people. In the next phase, police officers will be tested. 

Austria’s Ministry of Education said on Tuesday that nobody would be forced to have a test – and there would be no legal consequences, i.e. being restricted from working should anyone refuse. 

READ MORE: How Austria plans to end the coronavirus lockdown before Christmas 

However, anyone who poses a risk may be required to take additional measures in the workplace – including wearing protective equipment such as an FFP2 mask, the Ministry said. 

The Secretary General of the Ministry of Education, Martin Netzer, said that while he expected the vast majority of teachers to take part, the government would work with the teachers union to find an agreeable solution. 

Teachers union representative Paul Kimberger told Kurier that the union planned to work closely with the ministry on the matter, but said it made little sense to require all teachers to be tested when students were not. 

No mandatory testing

Constitutional law experts tell Austria’s APA that people cannot be forced to take part in the testing regime under existing Austrian law. 

“I know – at least in the public sector – no provision according to which an officer can be forced to do such a test,” constitutional law expert Heinz Meyer said. 

Meyer however said that if the Austrian government decided to change the law, it would most likely be legal to require specific professions to be tested – i.e. teachers, doctors and nurses. 

Any broader requirement to force all members of the public to be tested “would not be so easy” and would most likely be inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. 

While as yet unconfirmed, the public is expected to be tested on the weekend of the 19-20th of December. 

 


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