Austria to lift almost all coronavirus restrictions by July 1st

By July 1st, almost all coronavirus restrictions will be lifted in Austria, other than having to present your Covid-19 pass.

Austria to lift almost all coronavirus restrictions by July 1st

Austria has promised a return to some form of normality by July, with the country announcing two waves of lockdown relaxations. 

The first will take place on June 10th, while the latter will be on July 1st. 

By July 1st, bars and restaurants will no longer have a closing time, however drinking at the bar and dancing will not be allowed. 

You will also need to present your Covid-19 health pass which indicates your immunity to the virus. 

EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s Covid-19 immunity card and how do I get it?

Here’s what you need to know. 

June 10th

A number of restrictions will be relaxed on June 10th, including rules on masks, for groups, an extension on closing times for restaurants to midnight and more people allowed in retail. 

More information about this is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: Austria set to further relax coronavirus measures in June

July 1st

From July 1st, restaurants and bars will no longer have to close at midnight. 

Right now, Austria said that people will still need to be seated at a table in order to be served, i.e. they will not be allowed to walk around or to drink at the bar or to dance. 

However, this is subject to change and could be allowed by July 1st if infection rates remain positive and if a greater proportion of society is vaccinated. 

Mask rules will also change significantly, with masks now not required everywhere that the 3G Rule is in place. 

This means masks will not be required at hairdressers, in bars and restaurants, etc, but will only be required in public transport, shops and museums. More information is available here

Why not everything on June 10th?

The Austrian government said it was preferring a gradual approach in relaxing measures, rather than doing everything at once. 

“From our point of view, it makes a lot of sense to proceed step by step,” said Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger at a press conference on June 9th. 

“That is also the reason why we can extend the curfew to midnight tomorrow and thus also give it the prospect – and we really assume this because the infection situation is very positive – from the beginning of July, which of course also includes the number of the vaccinated will be much higher again, to be able to open up nightlife a bit more.”

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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.

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, with 1,905 people currently hospitalised with the disease, compared to 826 three weeks ago – a 130 percent jump, data from the Health Ministry shows.

And the situation will worsen, according to Austrian experts.

The Covid prognosis consortium in Austria released a new report saying it expects an increase of 52 percent in Covid patients hospitalised in the next two weeks.

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.