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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on in Austria on Monday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
Will bars in Vienna restrict entry to the vaccinated as has happened elsewhere in the world? Photo: JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

Vienna and Austria headed for a collision course over privileges for the vaccinated

Federal authorities are headed for a collision course with their Vienna counterparts about whether to allow certain privileges for vaccinated people in Austria. 

On Sunday evening, Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said it was “too early” to put in place stricter rules for the unvaccinated, saying people needed more time to ensure they got the jab. 

“The restriction of public life currently only for vaccinated people is currently not ripe for a nationwide decision,” said the health minister. 

Mückstein however did not rule out putting in place stricter rules at some stage, including reintroducing masks in indoor areas for unvaccinated people or reducing the validity of antigen tests. 

“I think it’s a question of when. We have had a worsening epidemiological situation for a few days. We have almost 1,000 positive tests per day now for the fifth day in a row.”

Mückstein stands in direct opposition to Vienna health boss Peter Hacker, who said unvaccinated people should be banned from sports and leisure facilities. 

“There is no way of getting around the fact that only vaccinated people should be allowed in” Hacker said. 

Hacker said Vienna would have no hesitation adopting different rules to the rest of the country as it had done before. 

“If the number of infections increases, and they look likely to increase at the beginning of the school year, then, for example, unvaccinated teachers will teach with masks.”

“Better to make things vaccination only rather than have more closures” Hacker said. 

Thomas Szekeres, President of the Medical Association, said the federal government should “absolutely support” Hacker’s plan.

Hacker also has won support from businesses in the hospitality and gastronomy sector, who have said they would welcome rules which restrict entry to the vaccinated. 

Several prominent entrepreneurs in the Vienna bar and restaurant scene told Krone on Monday that they support Hacker’s efforts. 

“Peter Hacker’s move is the right announcement that we need now,” said Martin Ho, who owns several bars and restaurants in the Austrian capital. 

David Schober, who runs several bars in Vienna, said the proposals outlined by Hacker would prevent further lockdowns. 

“The Viennese advance is going in the right direction, which will save us lockdowns.”

Thomas Figlmüller, who runs Vienna’s famous Figlmüller schnitzel restaurant, said the change would be a constructive step in returning to normal. 

“Any clear legal requirement that increases the vaccination rate and thus accelerates the return to normal is to be welcomed.”

Several other Austrian states have said they would welcome stricter rules for the unvaccinated, including Styria, Carinthia and Tyrol, however they said a national approach should be pursued. 

“That is absolutely the right approach, but it only works if the federal government and the states agree on clear measures together,” said the Styrian health councilor Juliane Bogner-Strauss (ÖVP) on Sunday. 

Her counterpart in Carinthia said stricter rules for the unvaccinated were “unavoidable”. 

Warm weather then thunderstorms predicted for Austria

Austria will see different sides of the weather spectrum this week, when temperatures over 30 give way to thunderstorms and rain in much of the country. 

Temperatures of up to 33 degrees are predicted for much of central Austria on Monday, with sunny weather and blue skies. 

Things will take a turn on Tuesday however, when a cold front coming from the south will see thunderstorms and rain cover much of the country – along with a maximum of 25 degrees. 

Austrian weather authority Unwetterzentrale (UWZ) said the storms should be particularly intense in the Wiener Neustadt and Upper Styria regions, while Lower Austria and Upper Austria should also experience strong storms. 

From Wednesday and into Thursday the sun is expected to shine again, but temperatures will remain cool with a maximum of 24 degrees across the centre of the country, rising to 26 degrees in the south. 

Wind and clouds will continue to drop away heading into the weekend, where the mercury is again expected to approach 30 degrees. 

New entry rules for Austria from UK and other countries 

On Sunday, Austria removed several countries from its virus variant list, including the United Kingdom, India, Russia, Nepal, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa.

The impact of the change is that people from the UK will be allowed to enter Austria without having to quarantine, provided they are vaccinated. 

The Ministry of Health said the change was supported by the fact that the Delta variant is now the dominant strain in Austria and most other European countries. 

Those who have not been vaccinated but have tested negative or have recovered from the virus in the past six months can enter but will need to quarantine for ten days – and can leave from the fifth day with a negative test. 

UPDATED: What are the rules for entering Austria right now?

Prior to the change, arrivals from the UK and the other countries on the variant list needed to obtain a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old before arriving. 

Once in Austria, they needed to quarantine for ten days, but could leave as early as the fifth day with a negative test. 

Several countries remain on the virus variant list, including Brazil, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Uruguay. 

READ MORE: Austria to remove UK and India from Covid variant list from Sunday

Stricter ‘3G’ rules in Austria

Also on Sunday, the Austrian government brought in stricter 3G rules. 

The 3G Rule refers to ‘Getestet, Geimpft, Genesen’ (Tested, Vaccinated, Recovered) and describes the three ways someone can provide evidence they are immune to the virus.

One major change which came into effect on Sunday is that only people who have had both jabs will be considered fully vaccinated, unlike before where people were considered to be fully vaccinated 21 days after their first shot. 

Those vaccinated with the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine are deemed to be fully vaccinated after one jab. 

Anyone who has recently contracted the virus will only need one shot to be considered fully vaccinated. 

The rules have also been tightened for nightclub entry, with antigen tests now only valid for 24 hours (PCR tests remain valid for 72 hours). 

More information on the stricter rules is available at the following link. 

3G to become 2G: Austria’s green pass rules to change from Sunday

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