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Austria extends coronavirus lockdown until February 7th

Austria on Sunday decided to extend its coronavirus lockdown until February 7th, while some measures were tightened.

Austria extends coronavirus lockdown until February 7th
Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

The lockdown was set to end on January 25th, but is now extended a further two weeks. The minimum distance has been extended from one to two metres, while FFP2 masks are now required in public transport and retail. 

Face-to-face lessons in schools will now start again on the 8th of February at the earliest. 

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told reporters he expected “two to three hard months” as the country continued to battle high coronavirus infection rates. 

Opening the country now “would not be courageous but it would be reckless – it would be negligence”, Kurz said

Kurz said the situation warranted an extension to the lockdown “even if we are already fed up with it”. 

UPDATED: What are the rules of Austria's coronavirus lockdown? 

Austria currently has a seven-day infection rate of 130 per 100,000 people – well above the target of 50. 

A major reason for the extension is the prevalence of the coronavirus mutation across Austria. The mutation was originally detected in the United Kingdom. 

What measures will stay in place?

The stay-at-home order will be extended until February 7th, while hospitality (restaurants and bars) will need to remain closed. 

From January 25th, FFP2 masks will be required in public transport and in retail. 

In addition, the minimum distance has been extended from one metre to two metres. 

The government however said that it would not yet follow Switzerland’s lead in making working from home mandatory. 

FF2 masks now mandatory in public transport and shops

Austria has followed Bavaria’s lead in tightening mask requirements in public transport and shops. 

FFP2 masks will now be required in all retail shops and supermarkets, along with public transport throughout Austria. 

Previously, cotton masks or scarves were sufficient to satisfy the regulation. 

While FFP2 masks are more expensive than standard medical masks, the government has promised that they will be available to Austrians at cost price. 

People on low incomes would be entitled to the masks for free, a government spokesperson said. 

Supermarkets Lidl, Spar and Rewe told APA on Sunday that they would be selling the masks at cost price – although they were unable to confirm the exact costs of the masks on Sunday. 

A spokesperson from Rewe told Der Standard that the masks would be offered “as cheaply as possible”. 

The retailers also indicated that there would be no issues with supply, even as demand is set to spike as a result of the new law. 

“Any mouth and nose protection is good, but the FFP2 mask is massively better,” said Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) on Sunday

FFP2 masks offer better protection against the coronavirus and other pathogens, with up to 94 percent of aerosols filtered out. 

 

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HEALTH

Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Austrian doctors and virologists have warned of a particularly strong flu wave this winter and recommend that people get vaccinated. Here's how to get the shot in each province.

Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Austrian experts have said there would likely be an exceptionally high wave of the flu after hardly any cases were registered in the past two years. The measures against Covid-19 prevented infections with Sars-CoV-2 – and curbed the spread of influenza and other cold viruses.

This is about to change this season as Covid measures were relaxed and airborne viruses spread again, they said.

In principle, the influenza vaccination protects against symptomatic infection for four months: “About 80 percent for H1 viruses, about 50 to 60 percent for H3 strains and 60 to 70 percent for B viruses,” said Monika Redlberger-Fritz, a virologist from Med-Uni Vienna.

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

She added: “But even with vaccine breakthroughs, you are still very well protected against complications, hospitalisations and death.”

Unlike the Covid-19 vaccination, the flu jab is not organised by the federal government but by the respective provinces, which file a report only after the flu season. In every province, the vaccine is free for children, but many ask adults to pay for a fee or get it from their doctors. In Vienna, the flu vaccination is free for everyone.

Here is how to get the vaccine in each province in campaigns carried out with the participation or knowledge of the government – companies and private insurance institutions can also start their own vaccination campaigns.

Vienna

Vienna offers free flu vaccinations for every resident. You can register online with the impfservice.wien or visit one of the centres that accept people without appointments (for example, the Austria Center Vienna). 

All that is necessary is for you to bring a document with your picture and wear an FFP2 mask. If you have an e-card and a vaccination passport, bring those with you as well. There is also a form to fill out, but those are available on-site.  

Lower Austria

The flu vaccine is free for children from six months to 15-years-old, and they can get the shot from established medical specialists. For those who are older, it is possible to receive the vaccination from a registered specialist, company medical service or from their employer, but they may be charged for it.

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Upper Austria

Children aged six months to 15 can get the vaccine for free with their general practitioners and paediatricians. However, you may need to get the vaccine components at the pharmacy with a voucher and register with your doctor.

Older people can get the vaccination directly at vaccination sites in their district for €15. Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

Styria

In Styria, children from six months to age 15 get the vaccine for free with paediatricians or public health services of their district authorities.  Older adults can get it from the public health service for €16 or €27 if they are older than 65. 

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Carinthia

Children (from six months to 15 years) can get the vaccine for free in doctor’s offices or public health centres. You can check HERE for more information and register. For older people, the price is €22, though prices could be different if you go to your doctor instead of a vaccination centre.

Residents of elderly and care homes get the vaccination free of charge in the facility where they live.

Burgenland

Children aged six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free in pharmacies and with their physicians. At-risk patients older than that can also get free vaccines, but only while supplies last. 

Otherwise, buying and paying for the vaccine in a pharmacy or with your general practitioner is possible. There are also free vaccinations in elderly and care homes. 

You can check more about the vaccination with your family doctor and paediatrician.

Salzburg

Children from six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free with any doctor offering it. You can check with your family doctor or paediatrician. Anyone over 15 that wants to get it needs to buy it at a pharmacy (prices vary depending on the vaccine used) and can ask their family doctor. 

There are free vaccinations for residents of elderly and care homes. 

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Salzburg HERE.

Tyrol

The flu vaccine is free for children from six months to the age of 15 years, and they can get it directly from their doctor (a general practitioner or a paediatrician, for example). For those older, it’s possible to vaccinate with their family doctors, but prices vary for the product and pharmacies and the doctor’s fee. 

Residents of elderly and nursing homes aged 60 and over get the vaccination free of charge.

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Tyrol HERE.

Vorarlberg

In Vorarlberg, children aged six months to 15 years can get the vaccine free with their doctors. Adults can also get it from general practitioner’s offices but will need to pay variable costs (depending on doctor fees and which vaccine they choose).

There are free vaccinations for residents of elderly and care homes. 

You can read more about the vaccination offer in Vorarlberg HERE.

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