On Monday, March 1st, Austria announced that a range of coronavirus measures would be relaxed later in the month.
Central to the plan is Austria’s vaccination framework. Austria, a country of nine million, is planning to have one million people vaccinated by Easter.
What was decided?
Austrian media reports that a major sticking point in the meeting was the date on which hospitality venues would again be allowed to open.
Austria’s Kronen Zeitung said that the motto of the meeting was “better to be checked to the host than to a private party”.
Pubs and restaurants with terraces all across the country will be allowed to open from March 27th, although all visitors will need to have evidence of a negative test.
The decision is not final and is subject to review in mid-March. Authorities will assess infection numbers two weeks before the March 27th opening date, with particular reference to the prevalence of virus mutations.
Youth and school sport will also be allowed to start again all over Austria from March 15th.
Measures to be relaxed earlier in Vorarlberg
The loosening will come earlier in the state of Vorarlberg, with both indoor and outdoor areas in pubs and restaurants allowed to open from March 15th.
Entry will be subject to the presentation of a negative test result, although the amount of time test results are valid has not yet been decided.
Cultural venues will also be allowed to open, while amateur sport will again be allowed in the state.
This new regional approach was forecast by The Local Austria on Monday morning due to the state’s low coronavirus infection rates.
The new approach will allow Austrian states with lower infection rates to open up, while those which are already open may be forced to shut down again if infection rates rise.
Austrian authorities will be watching Vorarlberg closely and consider it a “pilot region” for openings. If infection rates rise, this may have an impact on opening plans in other states.
It represents a departure from the previous approach of adopting uniform rules in all of Austria’s nine states.
What will remain closed?
“We start outdoors before we can dare to approach indoors,” said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
If the rollout is successful, pubs and restaurants may again be allowed to open indoors from April.
FFP2 masks are also to be required in workplaces from March 27th onwards.