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AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A round-up of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on today in Austria with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Vaccines
AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP

Pandemic situation ‘getting worse’

Further tightening of containment measures is expected in the coming days in Austria, at least regionally, as the situation with the pandemic is getting worse and the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals’ intensive care units has increased, Die Presse newspaper reports.

Easter lockdown ‘will not be enough to contain pandemic’

The President of the Austrian Society for Anaesthesiology, Resuscitation and Intensive Care Medicine (ÖGARI) Walter Hasibeder has told the Ö1 morning journal radio programme he does not think the Easter lockdown in Eastern Austria will be sufficient to contain the virus.

He wants a 14-day lockdown and for the measures to be taken across Austria due to the intensive care bed situation the Der Standard newspaper reports. 

Two thirds of population to be vaccinated  by end of June

Health Minister Rudof Anschober has presented the vaccination plan for the second quarter, pledging to vaccinate two thirds of the population with at least one jab by the end of June.

Currently, an average of 33,446 vaccinations are carried out daily and 1.1 million people have received at least one vaccination dose, Der Standard newspaper reports. 

Exit tests for North Tyrol

People wishing to leave North Tyrol from Wednesday will have to show a recent negative PCR test, broadcaster ORF reports. The exit test requirements will initially be in place for two weeks for North Tyrol and within Tyrol for the Kufstein district.

The reason is an outbreak of the British coronavirus variant mutation with other mutation features (B.1.1.7 with E484K). It is feared the new variant will be more vaccine resistant.

East Tyrol is exempt from the exit test. According to AGES there are 103 such cases in the Schwaz district, 54 cases are known in the Kufstein district to date. 

New wave in autumn, virologist warns

The Austrian virologist Dorothee von Laer is already warning of a new wave of infections in autumn.

Although she expects a quiet summer, should vaccine resistant variants of the coronavirus prevail during this time, there could be another wave in autumn, von Laer on Sunday told the broadcaster ORF.

She said it was important to prepare for this and plan more vaccinations.

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COVID-19 ALERT

‘The pandemic is not over’: Vienna keeps mask rule in public transport

Austria's capital has decided to keep mandatory FFP2 masks in public transport but is dropping them in supermarkets.

'The pandemic is not over': Vienna keeps mask rule in public transport

Austria’s capital Vienna will still have mandatory usage of FFP2 masks even if the federal government is dropping the requirement in the rest of the country.

It will still be mandatory in Vienna to wear masks when public transport, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and hospitals, SPÖ Mayor Michael Ludwig announced this Tuesday.

People no longer will need to wear masks in supermarkets and other essential trade, though. The decision was taken after a meeting with the city crisis committee and health authorities, according to the mayor.

“The pandemic is not over yet. We will remain on the consistent and safe path”, Ludwig said.

Earlier this Tuesday, Austria’s Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) had announced the country would “pause” mask requirements from June 1st in all but health establishments during the summer months, as reported.

READ ALSO: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

Rauch justified the decision by saying that the coronavirus numbers, both of new infections and of hospitalised people, have significantly dropped and maintained a downwards trend for weeks.

“The number of new infections has fallen, as well as the number of people in hospitals due to Covid-19, for several weeks now. This is good news”, he said.

Since the last major easing step in mid-April, the FFP2 obligation has only been in force in enclosed spaces of hospitals and homes, public transport and taxis, in the customer area of vital trade, in party traffic of administrative authorities and in institutions for the practice of religion outside trade fairs.

However, the federal government sets out the minimum standard for the country, but the different states may adopt stricter measures. Vienna has often kept tougher regulations during the pandemic, including a more extended period when only vaccinated or recovered people were allowed in bars and restaurants.

Vaccination campaign

The Viennese mayor also commented on the suspended vaccine mandate law, stating that vaccination protects and the city would have a “corresponding vaccination campaign soon”.

Ludwig added that he would demand the same from the federal government. “All of this is done to protect the health of the Viennese population”, he said.

Austria this Tuesday reported 2,177 new coronavirus infections after 185,230 PCR tests, according to the Health Ministry. Currently, there are 596 people hospitalised with Covid-19 and 57 in intensive care units.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,607 people have died from Covid-19 in the country.

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