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COVID-19 VACCINES

3G to 1G: Could Austria make bars, gyms, hairdressers and events ‘vaccinated only’?

As leading medical figures speak out in favour of the 1G rule, how likely is it that 1G could be introduced in Austria in the coming months?

3G to 1G: Could Austria make bars, gyms, hairdressers and events 'vaccinated only'?
Vaccine passport rules could be tightened. Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Covid-19 cases in Austria are rising and autumn is just around the corner, particularly due to the highly contagious Delta variant, which is now by far the most dominant strain in all parts of the country. 

One possible measure to stop the spread is to restrict certain businesses and venues only to people who have been vaccinated.

This means that people who have recovered from the virus and those who have tested negative would no longer be allowed to enter, in effect shifting Austria’s 3G rule to make it a ‘1G rule’. 

This would apply to nightclubs, bars and restaurants, but would also apply to other areas such as gyms, hairdressers and larger event venues. 

How realistic is this change in Austria?

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein both forecast the introduction of the 1G rule in nightclubs, discos and late-night bars if infections continue to climb. 

The broadcaster ORF reports there has been a “secret discussion” between Kurz and Mückstein about allowing visits to bars and restaurants only to people who have been vaccinated.

Head of the catering industry Mario Pulker is reported to be vehemently against the plan, and says he would go to the constitutional court if the government were to try to implement such a rule.

Now, a member of the national vaccination commission has spoken out in favour of introducing the 1G rule in Austria.

Infectionologist Herwig Kollaritsch spoke to the Ö1 Morgenjournal show about the pandemic and said he supports switching to a 1G rule in Austria.

This would mean certain activities, such as visiting bars, restaurants, hairdressers and events, would only be allowed for vaccinated people, Der Standard reports.

There is currently a 3G rule in Austria with a requirement for people to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or recovery from Covid-19 to access places like bars and restaurants.

READ MORE: What is the risk of catching Covid-19 in Austria when already vaccinated?

Kollaritsch said the reason for supporting a move to 1G is that vaccinated people are less likely to catch Covid-19, whereas unvaccinated people are still at risk.

He also said there could be a “threatening scenario” in the autumn with the Delta variant, which is “about as infectious as chickenpox”.

Mückstein recently said the 1G rule could be conceivable from October, but everyone must have the opportunity to get vaccinated first.

Legally, experts believe such a move would be possible. Karl Stöger, an expert in medical law speaking with the Kurier, said he expected the rule to survive any legal challenges. 

“In my opinion, a 1-G rule made with a sense of proportion has a good chance of surviving the Constitutional Court.”

Vienna in favour of 1G

The City of Vienna has previously spoken out in favour of the 1G rule, but the Wiener Zeitung reports it is unlikely to be introduced yet. Instead, Vienna is calling for a nationwide solution.

Vienna already has some rules in place that differ from the rest of Austria, such as a requirement to wear masks in shops. This mandate was dropped in other federal states on July 22nd.

READ MORE: How Vienna wants to restrict restaurants and events to vaccinated people only

Mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) is on Tuesday consulting with experts on the current restrictions and ongoing Covid-19 situation, with expectations that the mask mandate will be extended into the autumn.

What is happening in other countries?

In neighbouring Germany, there are discussions about restricting unvaccinated people in the future if infection rates rise again, but there has been no confirmation of this.

However, ​​FC Köln has announced only people that have been vaccinated or recovered (2G) can attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant women.

In Canada, the province of British Columbia has announced a plan for only vaccinated people to be able to attend concerts, sporting events, movies, restaurants, nightclubs, casinos or fitness classes from September 13th.

READ ALSO: Side effects: How safe are Covid vaccines in Austria?

British Columbia Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said 90 percent of all new Covid-19 cases in the province were in unvaccinated people.

In July, French President Emmanuel Macron announced legislation to limit access to hospitality to people that have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative (similar to Austria’s 3G rule).

The rule has been in effect since early August and has prompted protests across the country, but the number of people being vaccinated in France has since increased. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

What to know about Austria’s new advice on Covid vaccines

As the coronavirus pandemic progressed, each country developed its own vaccination recommendation, which often changed. Here is the new advice from the Austrian vaccination panel.

What to know about Austria's new advice on Covid vaccines

The Austrian National Vaccination Panel has updated its recommendations on Covid vaccination on several points, the Ministry of Health announced.

“Special attention continues to be paid to the completion of the basic immunisation, which is recommended for all persons five years of age and older, and to the booster vaccination,” according to the Ministry of Health.

The booster shot is generally available to all persons 12 years of age and older and is free of charge, but it is especially recommended for persons 60 years of age and older and those at risk.

READ ALSO: Masks against Covid and flu: What’s ahead for Austria this winter

In Austria, the basic immunisation against Covid-19 consists of three vaccine doses. A fourth dose, also known as a booster shot, is also recommended.

What is new in the recommendation?

Austria is adding a new coronavirus vaccine, from Sanofi (VidPrevtyn Beta), to the list of offers against the virus. The new vaccine is protein-based and has already been approved by the European authorities. 

In Austria, the Sanofi vaccine can be used from the third vaccination onwards on people older than 18. The offer will be available at the vaccination sites in the coming week at the earliest, according to the Ministry. 

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

Another change is that the variant Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 from BioNTech/Pfizer will also be used for the third vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years. 

This vaccine is specially adapted to the virus variants Omicron BA.4 and 5. It is now available for children in a special application shot that should be in vaccination sites starting next week at the earliest. 

READ ALSO: What to expect from the ski season in Austria this winter

Also included in the recommendations is a clarification specifically on an additional booster vaccination (fifth vaccination). 

People at risk from the age of 18, and those from the age of 60 can receive the additional booster vaccination four months after the fourth vaccination. According to the vaccination panel, no fifth vaccination is necessary for healthy people under 60.

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