Relaxed lockdown measures come into effect in Austria

Relaxed lockdown measures come into effect in Austria
Vienna during the lockdown. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP
Austria has relaxed its lockdown measures, effective Monday. Here’s what you need to know.

The Austrian government on Wednesday, December 2nd, announced its plan to wind back some of the stricter measures of the coronavirus lockdown, although several are set to remain in place. 

In many ways, the measures to be implemented from Monday, December 7th, reflect the ‘lockdown light’ which was in place before the restrictions were tightened as part of the current lockdown. 

Here’s what we know.

All-day lockdown becomes a nighttime curfew

Austria’s all-day lockdown has been wound back. Restrictions on leaving homes will now only apply from 8pm to 6am. 

While you may now leave the house during the day regardless of the reason, leaving the house at night can only be for four reasons: work, exercise, to care for others or for the ‘necessary and basic needs of life’, i.e. to avoid emergencies, etc. 

Size of gatherings

During the day, you may meet with a maximum of six adults and six children from a max of two households. 

Christmas time exception

These rules will however be wound back from the period of December 24th to 26th – and on December 31st. 

On those days, you may meet with up to ten people from any number of households. Children do not count towards the tally. 

Schools

Schools and kindergartens are set to reopen on Monday, December 7th. 

Schools are unlikely to resemble those of the pre-lockdown days however. 

Mask restrictions apply for anyone over the age of 10. Teaching in shifts and alternative classrooms – gyms and venues where greater social distance can be maintained – may be implemented in some cases. 

Upper schools and universities will continue to use distance learning. 

Events, sports and overnight stays

The closure of fitness studios, gyms and other indoor sports facilities is extended beyond December 7th. Contact sports will remain banned. 

However, skiing will again be possible from Christmas Eve. Hotels are set to be closed until January 7th, meaning that only day trips are possible. 

In a press conference on Wednesday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said ski lifts would again be allowed to open from December 24th. 

“From December 24th, individual sports outdoors such as skiing will be possible again so that the Austrian population has the chance to engage in sporting activity over the holidays,” Kurz said at a press conference announcing re-opening measures after the country's second coronavirus lockdown ends at the end of this week.

Hospitality and gastronomy 

Bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs will remain closed until January 7th at the earliest, where they will reopen if infection rates allow. 

Pick up will be possible between 6am and 7pm, although open alcoholic drinks may not be sold. 

There will be no Christmas markets in 2020. 

Shops

Shops will be allowed to open again from Monday – albeit subject to major restrictions. 

Only one customer will be allowed per ten square metres. 

Mask and nose protection must also be worn. 

Museums and libraries

Museums and libraries will be allowed to open again, although only one visitor per 10 metres squared is allowed. 

Mouth and nose coverings must also be worn. 

Quarantine 

The government will extend the existing quarantine duration for travellers arriving in Austria to ten days. 

Under the new rules, anyone returning from a high-risk area will be required to quarantine for ten days. 

After five days in quarantine, people will be entitled to have a free coronavirus test in order to leave quarantine early. 

‘High risk’ countries will be any country which has a 14-day incidence rate of more than 100 positive cases of coronavirus per 100,000 residents. 

Everything you need to know about Austria's Christmas quarantine rules 

As it currently stands, each of Austria’s neighbours is over this threshold. 

There will be some exceptions for commuters, the government indicated. 

Being forced to quarantine will not be an excuse to miss work – meaning that anyone who plans to travel abroad and return to Austria must ensure that they have the next ten days off, or that they can work from home. 

When making the announcement on December 2nd, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said only that the requirement would apply from “mid-December”. 

While there was some initial confusion – with the German foreign ministry stating that the measure would come into effect from December 7th – Austria's Ambassador to Germany wrote in an official communication on December 3rd that the quarantine requirement would come into effect from November 19th, 2020

The requirement will end on January 10th. 

 

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