New pandemic rules come into force
New pandemic rules for Austria come into force on Wednesday. Austria is currently considered to be at level one, which means 200 intensive care beds are currently being used for Covid-19 patients. The changes mean:
- Antigen tests are only valid for 24 hours instead of 48 hours after the test was taken (this does not affect schoolchildren or people coming into Austria from another country).
- Hospital grade FFP2 masks must be worn instead of normal facemarks in essential retail shops and on public transport.
- For those who have not been vaccinated , wearing an FFP2 mask is also mandatory in non-essential retail and in cultural institutions such as museums.
- Proof of vaccination, negative test or recovery from Covid-19 (the 3G rule) is required for events and gatherings of 25 people or more.
If 300 Covid-19 patients are in intensive care beds, Austria will introduce further measures as part of level two. This would mean only those with a Covid-19 vaccination or proof of recovery could go to night clubs and late night restaurants and cafes (the 2-G rule). Stage three, at which point antigen tests would no longer be valid, will be implemented if intensive care bed occupancy rises to 400.
First meteorite since the 1970s found in Austria
The first meteorite for 44 years has been found in Austria, broadcaster ORF reports. A fragment of a meteorite weighing 233 grams was found in Kindberg in the Bruck-Mürzzuschlag district. The “Kindberg meteorite” found on July 4th is a “sensation for Austria”, according to the curator of the meteorite collection of the Natural History Museum, Ludovic Ferrière. The discovery came after a fireball was seen over Austria at 4.45am on November 19th 2020 and loud explosions were also reported. Scientists estimate the original weight of the meteorite was around 270 kilograms. The comet was visible as it burned up for 24 seconds falling from a height of 100 kilometers to 25 kilometers. Once it fell to the ground, the search to find the remnant of the meteorite took eight months.
Quarantine rules relaxed for schools
Quarantine rules are being relaxed for Austrian schools. Schoolchildren in quarantine will in future be allowed to “free themselves” from isolation by taking a PCR test after five instead of ten days from the last contact with the infectious person, Der Standard newspaper reports. In the case of under-ten-year-olds, in the case of one infected child in the classroom, there continues to be no need to quarantine due to the lower risk of transmission through this age group. These children can continue to go to school, but should voluntarily limit their social contacts outside. If two or more students are infected within 14 days or one adult in the class, the health authorities must decide whether parts or the entire class should be segregated.
Trade grows between Austria and Eastern Europe
Prosperity in Eastern Europe is growing as is trade with the region. According to Statistics Austria, trade with the EU’s eastern neighbours, including Russia, Ukraine and the Western Balkans, rose 17% during the first half of the year. However, this is causing many Eastern European workers to return to their countries of origin and exacerbating Austria’s labour shortage, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports.
Mushrooms near the Styrian and Upper Austrian borders are ‘radioactive’
Mushrooms in Styria and Upper Austria still show traces of radioactivity, decades after contaminated rain fell in these regions following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the Krone Zeitung reports. Chanterelle mushrooms collected in the Styrian-Upper Austrian border area, showed 7563 Becquerel (radioactive decay per second) per kilogram, which is more than twelve times above the Becquerel limit that applies in the European Union.