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EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s new tighter Covid measures for unvaccinated?

EXPLAINED: What are Austria's new tighter Covid measures for unvaccinated?
Austria will tighten Covid measures from September 15th. Photo by RAYMOND ROIG / AFP
On Wednesday, the Austrian government decided it would tighten Covid measures as of Wednesday, September 15th, with some rules only applying to the unvaccinated.

The announcement came amid rising infection rates and hospitalisations, including in ICUs. 

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said at the press conference “the answer has to be vaccination and not lockdown”. 

Kurz said the measures would apply to the unvaccinated only, in order to protect them and to protect hospitals from becoming overloaded. 

Despite this, some measures apply both to vaccinated and unvaccinated people. 

Kurz cited Denmark – where 86 percent of people are vaccinated and almost all measures have been relaxed as the government declared the pandemic over – as the model Austria should look to follow. 

Austria also promised an increase in regular checks by police to ensure the measures are adhered to. 

Stiff fines have also been rolled out. 

READ MORE: What are the fines for breaching the tightened mask rules in Austria?

Testing

From September 15th, antigen tests will only be valid for 24 hours. This has been the case in Vienna for some time, however these tests had a 48-hour validity in the rest of the country. 

Masks

Unvaccinated people will be required to wear FFP2 masks in non-essential shops such as clothing retailers, stationery shops and other retailers where non-essential items are sold. 

On Tuesday it also emerged unvaccinated people will have to wear a FFP2 mask in museums, libraries, libraries and archives. However, in concerts and in the theatre, a test is sufficient.

Those who are vaccinated will not need to wear a mask in these areas, although masks are still recommended. 

One change which applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people is that FFP2 masks will again be required in supermarkets and public transport; currently, only cloth face coverings are required here. 

Further measures? 

Stricter measures were also laid out if ICU capacity is further limited. 

Kurz had announced the bed occupancy in the intensive care units should become the new lead indicator for Covid-19 measures instead of the seven-day incidence. 

READ MORE: Can employers in Austria ask if staff are vaccinated against Covid-19?

If more than 15 percent of capacity is reached for seven successive days, unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed into nightclubs and larger events, i.e. events with more than 500 people without assigned seats. 

Only those who are vaccinated or who have recently recovered from the virus will be allowed to enter. 

This means that people cannot enter with proof of a negative test. 

Also, so-called self tests will no longer be accepted as proof of a negative test (in areas where negative tests are still accepted). 

If more than 20 percent of ICU capacity is reached for seven successive days, antigen tests will no longer be valid for bars, restaurants, gyms, hairdressers and other areas where the 3G rule applies, with only those who have been vaccinated, recently recovered or who have taken a negative PCR test allowed to enter.  

Austria’s federal states are free to put in place stricter rules if they deem them necessary. 


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