Mask requirement set to be relaxed in public transport and retail
The mask requirement is set to be relaxed in Austria from July 22nd. Rather than the FFP2 masks, only masks offering mouth and nose protection will be mandatory on public transport and in essential retail shops. FFP2 masks will be obligatory only in hospitals and nursing homes.
In an interview with the Österreich newspaper on Sunday, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) said he did not want masks to become “permanent” in Austria, and said it was not part of the culture in European countries.
He believes two thirds of the population will probably be vaccinated by the end of summer, meaning Austria is “very well prepared” for an expected rise in cases in autumn.
Kurz also urged people to get vaccinated before the Delta variant of Covid-19 becomes established in Austria.
Vienna may not loosen restrictions
Vienna may not loosen its restrictions in line with the rest of the country, due to concerns over the Delta variant of Covid-19, Der Standard newspaper reports.
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) referred to Lisbon in Portugal, which has gone into lockdown due to increased cases, and noted the federal government decided on the recently announced opening steps without consulting the federal states.
Vaccine certificates now available in Austria’s “Green Pass”
Vaccination certificates have been able to be created and accessed as part of Austria’s “Green Pass” at Gesundheit.gv.at or in the ELGA portal with EU-compliant QR codes since Sunday morning. The Green Pass also shows details of Covid-19 test results and recovery from a Covid-19 infection.
Calls for dual citizenship from Austrians living abroad
Although the ruling ÖVP party in Austria has rejected making it easier access for immigrants to become citizens, the Upper Austrian Governor Thomas Stelzer, who is also in the ÖVP party would like to give Austrians living abroad dual citizenship.
Dual citizenships are currently only permitted in Austria in exceptional cases. According to a recent study by migration experts at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), Austria’s citizenship law is one of the most restrictive in the world; only one fifth of all states do not recognise dual citizenship.
The World Federation of Austrians Abroad, which represents the interests of almost 600,000 Austrians living abroad, would also like to see a relaxation of the dual citizenship rules.
Seven day incidence at 12
The seven day incidence, or the number of new infections with Covid-19 in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 11.9. No federal state has a value above 30. Styria (4.6) has the lowest, Vienna with 25.3 has the highest value.
Long term immunity after Covid-19 infection
As the Local reported yesterday, a study carried out at the MedUni Innsbruck shows people who were infected by Covid-19 still had long-term immunity in the form of antibodies one year after being infected with the virus. However, those who have recovered from Covid-19 are still urged to get one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for full protection from disease.
Villages growing faster than cities
For the first time for many years, small municipalities grew faster than the larger cities in 2020 according to population data from Statistics Austria. In addition to the capital Vienna, the municipalities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants have seen above average growth.
The population growth of the small communities in Upper Austria and Tyrol was particularly large. The provincial capital Innsbruck, on the other hand, has lost residents. Johannes Klotz from research company OGM said this could be due to the increasing numbers of people working from home.
Wilderness expands into Styria
The Dürrenstein wilderness area around the Rothwald in southern Lower Austria is to be expanded into Styria. With the Lassingtal, the protected area covers around 7,000 hectares. The wilderness was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. It is hoped the move will strengthen tourism in the region.