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COVID-19

Lower Austria first state to start vaccinating all members of public

Lower Austria will become the first Austrian state to start vaccinating all members of the public, with everyone over the age of 16 able to be vaccinated from May 10th.

Lower Austria first state to start vaccinating all members of public
A covid vaccination centre in Austria. Photo: Joe Klamar / AFP

Up until this point, each of Austria’s nine states has been primarily focused on vaccinating people in high-risk groups, i.e. those with medical conditions or advanced age. 

However Lower Austria will over the next two weeks gradually relax restrictions on vaccinations. 

OE24 reported on Wednesday that from May 3rd, registration for 326,000 appointments will be released up until the end of June.

The age will be lowered to 50 from May 3rd onwards, before making appointments available for those over 40 from May 5th. 

From May 7th, people over the age of 30 can make reservations, before appointments will be opened up to everyone over the age of 16 on May 10th. 

The appointments themselves will be available from mid-May onwards. 

As at April 28th, Lower Austria sits in the middle of the pack when it comes to coronavirus vaccinations in an Austrian state comparison, with 24.6 percent of the population receiving one shot. 

Tyrol is the national leader with 28.1 percent of the population receiving one shot, followed by Burgenland with 27.8 percent.

Salzburg, with 20.54 percent of the population having had one shot, is the slowest of the Austrian states.  

Lower Austria is the country’s second most populous state after Vienna, with 1.6 million residents. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

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

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

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

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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