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What are Austria’s current Covid-19 measures?

Austria is set to relax several coronavirus measures from June 10th, including rules for masks, restaurants and curfew. Here's what you need to know.

What are Austria's current Covid-19 measures?
Austria will further relax coronavirus measures on June 10th. Photo: Christof STACHE / AFP

From July 1st, new coronavirus measures will apply. Here’s what you need to know. 

Just over one week after relaxing a range of coronavirus measures on May 19th, Austria announced it will take steps to further relax existing measures from June 10th.

Austrian health minister Wolfgang Mückstein indicated that the previous round of relaxations has been successful, meaning that further measures can be relaxed.

The one proviso on the additional loosening of measures is that infection rates, along with hospitalisations and fatality rates, remain low in Austria.

A further round of relaxations will take place from July 1st. More information is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: Austria to lift almost all coronavirus restrictions by July 1st

What measures will be relaxed from June 10th? 

According to the Minister of Health, the plans relate mainly to masks, gastronomy and events. 

While previous reports had indicated the relaxations could come into effect on the 17th of June, Mückstein confirmed on Wednesday that June 10th was the new date.

In order to access bars, restaurants, events and travel, you will need to comply with the so-called 3G rule. 

This means that only people who have been vaccinated against the virus, have tested negative or who have contracted the virus and have recovered are entitled to participate in the reopening. 

More information on the 3G rule is available at the following link. 

‘3G Rule’: How to prove you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid in Austria

Masks

From June 10th, the mask mandate will be relaxed for outdoor areas for people who have been vaccinated, have tested negative all those who have recently recovered from the virus.

Masks have been required in outdoor areas where the mandatory two-metre distance has been difficult to maintain, for example at protests or in public spaces where large amounts of people congregate.

The indoor mask mandate however, is expected to remain in place.

Weddings

The number of people allowed at weddings is also expected to increase, although specifics of this plan have yet to be released.

Currently, food and drink may not be served at weddings and a maximum of 50 people are allowed to attend.

The relaxations are expected to include a higher maximum on attendees along with a relaxation of the ban on catering.

Restaurants

From June 10th, the mandatory closing time for restaurants will be increase from 10:00PM to midnight.

In addition, the number of people who may sit at a table will be doubled from four to eight people.

Retail

The rules are also expected to change in shops. Currently, one person is allowed per 20 square meters. This will be changed from June 10th to allow for one person per 10 square metres.

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COVID-19 STATS

UPDATED: Will Austria bring back face mask mandate to battle rising Covid cases?

As the number of Covid-19 infections and related hospitalisations rises in Austria, many are asking for new measures to be adopted, especially a mask mandate.

UPDATED: Will Austria bring back face mask mandate to battle rising Covid cases?

Austria has seen an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations in recent weeks, with 2,428 people currently hospitalised with the disease, including 118 in intensive care (ICU).

One month ago, just 871 people were being treated in hospital with an additional 47 people in ICU.

The Austrian Federal Government has now said they will make a decision on bringing back the mask mandate by October 23rd. Last week, the National Covid Crisis Coordination (GECKO) recommended wearing FFP2 masks.

According to ORF, the mask mandate could return for public indoor spaces, public transport and in the gastronomy sector. The Austrian Trade Association has already rejected the suggestion saying it would be the “last straw” for employees as the industry struggles with staff shortages.

What are the Covid-19 experts predicting for the autumn and winter season?

The latest report from the Covid prognosis consortium in Austria predicts a rise in hospitalisations in October. 

In a “worst case” scenario, as many as 3,428 people who tested positive would need a hospital bed on October 19th, the latest forecast said. A “further significant increase in hospitalisation is to be expected, with the Covid population in the ICU area remaining almost unchanged”, the experts summarised.

READ ALSO: Reader question: When should I get a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Austria?

In comparison, last autumn, the country was on an Austria-wide lockdown and on November 28th, there were 2,767 infected persons hospitalised.

However, the experts said there is a very high proportion of incidental findings among hospitalised patients. Only around 22 percent of those presently hospitalised were admitted with Covid-19 symptoms. In the intensive care unit, this proportion was only 12 percent – most people go to the hospital for other reasons and find they test positive for the coronavirus.

Calls for pandemic-containment measures

Still, the consortium warned about staff shortages in hospitals. “The increased infection pressure is currently also translating into above-average unplanned staff absences”, it wrote.

READ ALSO: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

In view of the situation in the hospitals, experts are calling for the reintroduction of mandatory masks.

Virologist Dorothee von Laer from the Medical University of Innsbruck criticised the government, saying authorities were once again “too late” to take measures.

“We are now at the last push to reintroduce compulsory masks indoors so that the omicron wave from spring is not repeated,” the virologist told Kurier.

“How much longer to watch Covid go through the roof? Winter is still long, and hospitals are getting crowded with decreasing staff and increasing occupancy. Mask up! #CovidIsntOver,” Thomas Czypionka, Head of IHS Health Economics and Health Policy of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), said on Twitter.

Currently, people in Austria only need to wear masks in the health sector area, such as in hospitals and elderly care homes. However, the capital Vienna has stricter rules, imposing a mask mandate on public transport.

Only in a ‘state of emergency’

Speaking to public broadcaster ORF, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) ruled out the immediate introduction of a mask mandate.

He said stricter rules would only be imposed if the situation in hospitals “escalates, becomes threatening, and a state of emergency occurs”.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The Covid rules across Austria

At the same time, he reiterated that the pandemic is not over and that when the government removed the mask mandate, it also announced the rules could be brought back in autumn.

“When the mask requirement was abolished in grocery stores and public transport in the spring, I already said: If it should become necessary again in the autumn, the general mask requirement will be reintroduced there”, he said.

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