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”.