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Vienna coronavirus protesters ‘tried to storm and occupy Austrian Parliament’

An anti-lockdown protest turned violent in Vienna on Sunday, with some participants attempting to storm and occupy Austrian parliament. More than 1,700 citations were made, while several police officers were injured.

Vienna coronavirus protesters 'tried to storm and occupy Austrian Parliament'
Protesters at an anti-lockdown rally in Vienna on January 31st. Photo: ALEX HALADA / AFP

Around 10,000 anti-lockdown demonstrators descended on Vienna on Sunday. While the protests began peacefully, they eventually turned violent – with some demonstrators attempting to storm the Austrian Parliament. 

The protesters’ attempts on the parliament, which is currently closed for renovations, were thwarted by police, Austria’s Kronen Zeitung newspaper reports

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer thanked police for their efforts amid the “emergence of a devastating situation”. 

In total, 11 arrests were made during the protests while a further 1,766 citations were issued – including 850 breaches of coronavirus measures. 

IN PICTURES: Thousands protest against coronavirus measures in Vienna 

Nehammer said the violence was led by hooligans and right-wing radicals, including a number of well known identities.

One of those arrested was ‘coronavirus skeptic leader’ Mark Rutter, who had tried to injure police officers, Austrian media reported on Monday. 

Four police officers were injured in the scuffles. 

The protest, along with 14 other rallies planned for Saturday, was not given approval by Austrian authorities due to the participants’ disregard for mask wearing, social distancing and other coronavirus measures. 

'Neo-nazi militants and thugs'

AFP reported on Sunday that the march was organised by the far-right FPÖ party, and many participants ignored government regulations on mask wearing and the respect for minimum distances from each other.

Neo-nazi militants and thugs were reportedly among the crowd, which refused to disband and blocked traffic as it began to march towards the national parliament.

Police then intervened and detained some protestors.

It was the first time that the FPÖ, and member Herbert Kickl who is a former interior minister, officially called for a protest against the third Austrian lockdown.

“We are seeing unprecedented censure,” Kickl told media Saturday, before the party put in a second request for a rally permit which was also refused.

The reason for the refusal was given as a risk of increased transmission rates of new variants, and a “lack of contact traceability” among those who were to take part in the march.

Austrian schools, sports clubs, hotels, restaurants, cultural venues and many stores have been shut to stem the spread of Covid-19, but the country's iconic ski resorts have been allowed to remain open.

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TRAVEL NEWS

LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules?

Travellers entering the country no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test, but masks are still mandatory in some places.

LATEST: What are Austria's current Covid-19 rules?

From Monday, May 16th, travellers coming into Austria no longer need to present proof that they have either been vaccinated against Covid-19, have tested negative for the disease, or recently recovered from it.

Previously, the so-called 3G rules were in place for all people coming into Austria, with very few exceptions.

The government over the weekend dropped the requirements just ahead of warmer months, stating that the epidemiological situation no longer justified them.

On Sunday, 15th, Austria reported 3,777 new coronavirus cases after just under 110,000 PCR tests were taken. In total, 807 people are currently hospitalised with the disease, and 62 are in intensive care units. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,303 people have died from Covid-19 in Austria.

Despite dropping the entry requirements, the federal government reiterated that the rules could change, mainly if a variant of concern is found.

READ ALSO: Austria extends Covid regulations as experts warn of autumn resurgence

Domestically, Austria still has a few coronavirus restrictions in place, including an FFP2 mask mandate in some areas.

These are the latest rules you need to be aware of:

FFP2 mask mandate

The obligation to wear an FFP2 mask only applies in enclosed spaces of hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets, and administrative buildings.

The mask mandate is no longer in place for enclosed places like gyms, restaurants and bars, and cultural establishments, but masks are still recommended.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in Austria

Isolation after a positive test

After the fifth day of isolation and at least 48 hours without symptoms, you can end quarantine for mild or asymptomatic cases.

However, there is a “traffic restriction” for another five days, with a mask mandate and no entry permitted in gastronomy venues, health and care homes, and events during this period.

READ ALSO: Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

In order to obtain an early lifting of the restrictions, a free PCR test can be carried out. If the test is negative or with a CT value (short for Cycle Threshold and is the gold standard for detecting Covid-19) above 30, the isolation can be lifted.

If the value is below 30, then you must remain in isolation.

Vienna doesn’t follow the ‘traffic restriction’, so the only way to end the 10-day isolation is with a PCR test (negative or CT value below 30) after two symptom-free days.

You can find more information on federal restrictions on the government website here.

The 3G rule

A 3G rule (proof that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, recently recovered from the disease or has a negative test) is generally only needed for visitors, employees and service providers in hospitals and care homes.

READ ALSO: Ba.4 and Ba.5 Covid variants detected in Austria: What you need to know

In Vienna, on the other hand, the rules are stricter.

Visitors and workers need to have the 3G proof plus a negative PCR test. However, the city has dropped 2G rules for gastronomy and nightclubs – the only places where it was still required to show proof of vaccination or recovery.

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