Travel and testing in bars and restaurants: How Austria plans to open up in May

Travel and testing in bars and restaurants: How Austria plans to open up in May
A sign says "Dear customers, hang in there". Photo: JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP
Austria has announced coronavirus measures will be relaxed in May. Here’s what that might look like.

On Friday, April 16th, Austria announced a relaxation of coronavirus measures was likely to come in May. 

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz promised lockdown measures in the areas of culture, sport, gastronomy and tourism would be relaxed in May.

“We are at the last meters in dealing with this pandemic. Freedom is within one’s grasp,” Kurz said optimistically. 

‘Freedom is near’: Austria to relax most coronavirus measures in May

The media has speculated that May 17th is the likely date at which measures will be relaxed – although Kurz has not confirmed this date. 

At the announcement, Kurz also said all police officers and teachers would be vaccinated by the end of April, however meeting this pledge by this date already looks unlikely. 

Which measures will be relaxed and how?

When making the announcement, Kurz however declined to specify the nature of the measures that would be relaxed, except to say that the relaxations would come into effect at the same time across the entire country.

While a decision will be made on Friday, April 23rd, Austrian media has reported upon some of the details of the proposals. 

The opening will be carried out with “very strict conditions”, broadcaster ORF reports. 

For example, there will be a compulsory testing requirement in the catering and tourism sectors, but not for retail, said the Chancellor on Tuesday in the Ö1 morning journal. 

The opening plan will be drawn up by a commission, with the first details available at the end of the week. Kurz promises by the summer, 200,000 people should be back in employment. 

The government is developing an ‘economic comeback’ plan, the funding for which has been increased from three to five billion euros. 

Kurz promised ‘tailor made’ solutions in industries that were particularly hard hit, such as the tourism and hotel sectors. 

While two Austrian states – Vienna and Lower Austria – are currently in a stricter lockdown than the rest of the country, Kurz said he assumes the entire country will be “on the same page” by mid-May when the relaxations take place. 

“We all need a step towards normality,” said Kurz.

Austria’s Der Standard newspaper reports that May 17th is the likely date, however Kurz has not confirmed this date. 


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