On Monday, December 7th, Austria took its first tentative steps in relaxing the nation’s lockdown measures.
A number of measures have been relaxed, while more easing of the rules are forecast for the Christmas period.
Here’s what you need to know.
When can I leave my apartment?
The 24-hour curfew has been relaxed, meaning that you can leave your home without a reason from 6am-8pm.
From 8pm-6am, you can only leave your home for a specific reason.
For what reasons can I leave my apartment at nighttime?
The measures now in effect mirror the nighttime curfew which was in place in late November.
Under the rules, people will only be allowed to leave the house for the ‘necessary basic needs of life'.
While these ‘needs' are not expressly defined, the Austrian government has clarified what people are allowed to do on several occasions to include visiting close family and friends, go to the doctor, exercise, shopping and going to work.
More information is provided at the following link.
How many people can I meet?
During the day, you may meet with a maximum of six adults and six children from a max of two households.
These rules apply both at home and in public.
I’m planning an illegal meeting with seven people in my house. If the police come around, can I get one to hide under the bed?
The Austrian government has reminded everyone consistently that the goal of the measures are not to raise money from fines or to shame people in the town square, but to minimise the spread of the virus.
Therefore, they are hoping that common sense prevails and people are motivated to comply with the rules due to the very real danger of the pandemic.
Austrian authorities have frequently said they will not send police into private homes and apartments to check if rules are being complied with – although offices and businesses may be checked.
What about the Christmas period?
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.
The government has said these limits could be changed closer to the date depending on infection numbers.
How about 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. Only the ‘business area’ counts here, meaning that the square meterage of the entire business – i.e. including staff areas – will be irrelevant.
Food and drink cannot be consumed on premises.
Mask and nose protection must also be worn.
Are bars and restaurants still closed?
Yes. 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.
I know Christmas markets are closed, but can I drink a cheeky Glühwein in the town square?
Unfortunately not. As of Monday, December 7th, takeaway alcohol cannot be sold anywhere in Austria – meaning cafes or restaurants can’t sell hot Glühwein or any other alcoholic drinks.
Supermarkets and other shops can still sell alcohol for home consumption.
Technically speaking, consuming alcohol in public is still allowed in Austria – as it always is – although police will decide on a case by case basis if this behaviour is acceptable.
Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said that a public “gathering of several people with alcohol” would not be acceptable, reports Kronen Zeitung.
What’s going on in schools?
Schools and kindergartens open again from Monday.
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.
Can I visit a nursing home or a hospital?
One visitor per resident is allowed per week.
In addition, two visitors per day are allowed for people ‘in need of support’ and for minors.
Only one person is allowed to be present during child (in addition to the mother).
There are no visit restrictions in palliative or hospice care.