On Wednesday afternoon, June 30th, Vienna decided it would keep in place several coronavirus measures from July 1st, thereby not fully participating in the nationwide relaxation announced in mid-June.
While the majority of the measures – such as those relating to closing times for bars and crowds will be relaxed in line with those nationally, some measures will be kept in place, relating to masks, testing and children.
What has Vienna decided to do?
Vienna has decided to introduce stricter restrictions around testing for children aged six and for adults in the federal capital.
Children must show proof of having tested negative or recovered from Covid-19 to go to a swimming pool or to go to a restaurant.
For the rest of the country, the testing/vaccination or recovery requirement kicks into place from the age of 12, rather than six.
According to Vienna’s Mayor Ludwig, the age group of 0 to 19 years olds is currently responsible for 40 percent of infections in Vienna.
One of the reasons for the change is that it is currently school holidays, which means that the regular tests children were getting at school are now no longer taking place.
Adults may also no longer use “living room” antigen tests as proof, meaning that everyone will need to get a test done at an accredited centre.
Antigen tests will be valid for 48 hours – and PCR tests will be valid for 72 hours.
The city will also ensure FFP2 masks remain obligatory in hospitals and nursing homes, whereas the FFP2 mask requirement has been relaxed in the rest of the country.
Cotton face coverings are fine in public transport and shops in Vienna, as they are in the rest of the country.
Vienna will continue asking people to register when they visit a restaurant to provide their contact details.
While this requirement looks set to be relaxed on the 22nd of July in the rest of the country, Vienna has indicated it will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
What has been the reaction to this decision?
Austria’s Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) said he welcomed Vienna’s initiative in a tweet. He pointed out the pandemic was not yet over.
However, the Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger of the centre-right ÖVP party said it was “absurd” to “unilaterally change the rules on the day before well-planned nationwide opening steps”, Der Standard newspaper reports.
She said it was too short notice for restaurants to change their rules, and would make life harder for families over the summer.