Austria: Kurz promises any future lockdowns ‘only for the unvaccinated’

Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has announced his plans for dealing with Covid-19 in the coming months, saying any lockdown measures will only be put in place for those who haven't had the vaccine and ICU beds will be the most important metric in deciding policy.

Austria: Kurz promises any future lockdowns 'only for the unvaccinated'
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Photo: JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP

As the autumn looms closer, Kurz has revealed his five-point plan for the pandemic with possible changes to the 3G rule (tested, vaccinated, recovered) and how the case rates are monitored.

Speaking to ORF as part of the Summer Talks series, Kurz revealed the vaccination programme will continue to be a main focus, describing it as a way back to normality.

The five-point plan includes replacing the seven-day incidence by AGES (Agency for Health and Food Safety) with the occupancy of intensive care beds as a key indicator of the severity of the pandemic.

Kurz ruled out another general lockdown, but said if further measures are needed in the future it should only be for unvaccinated people.

READ MORE: Vienna sees 60 percent in ICU admissions in one week

The government will continue to encourage people to get vaccinated, with a further promotion of booster vaccinations (known as the third stitch in Austria).

The 3G rules will be tightened and action will be taken against forged vaccination certificates.

Schools will remain open with intensive testing (if needed) to replace closures. Kurz acknowledged this would mean an increase in infections, but it was a risk that had to be taken to keep schools open.

The Kurier reports that Kurz will discuss the five-point plan with leaders from the provincial governments on Wednesday 8th September.

In the ORF interview, Kurz also outlined plans for a labour market package to counteract inflation and the implementation of the eco-social tax reform.

He said the reforms are about strengthening small and medium-sized incomes, lowering the tax burden and increasing pensions, while also working towards climate targets. 

READ ALSO: Austria wants to make nightclubs and apres ski ‘vaccinated only’ from October

Additionally, the Summer Talk covered the issue of immigration and the crisis in Afghanistan. Kurz reinstated his restrictive line and referred to the importance of integration for asylum seekers.

Finally, Kurz was asked about the impending charge of alleged false testimony before the Ibiza Committee and the possibility of conviction. He again ruled out resignation, even if charged.

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Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?

The EU has eased recommendations for face masks on flights and in airports, but member states are free to put their own rules in place.

Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?

Since Monday, May 16th, it is no longer mandatory to wear a medical-grade face mask on flights and at airports within the EU.

But Austria will continue with the rule for now, meaning that masks are required on flights to Austria.

The implementation of the EU recommendation is based on the national rules in individual countries. 

For flights, where a destination country has a mask rule in place, then masks must be worn. 

An Austrian Airlines spokesperson told the Kronen Zeitung: “The easing of the mask requirement is an EU recommendation that must be reflected in a national regulation in order to also apply in Austria.” 

The aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC states that if masks are mandatory on public transport at the point of departure or at the destination, then the regulation should also continue on board the aircraft.

According to current Austrian Covid-19 regulations, wearing an FFP2 mask is still required in hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets, and administrative buildings.

READ MORE: LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules

In addition to Austria, masks are still compulsory in some public areas in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy – all key tourism destinations for travellers from Austria.