Austria sees bump in vaccine take up after 2G announcement

Long queues have been spotted outside Austrian vaccine centres at the weekend, indicating that new restrictions on the unvaccinated may be having an effect.

A health worker at a vaccination center at a BILLA Plus supermarket is preparing the vaccination in Vienna
A health worker at a vaccination center at a BILLA Plus supermarket is preparing the vaccination in Vienna on August 25, 2021. Photo: ALEX HALADA / AFP

Some 10,000 people had their first shot of a vaccine in Austria on Saturday a day after the government announced that it was bringing in new rules only allowing vaccinated and recovered people into restaurants, cultural venues and other indoor areas.

Meanwhile long queues were spotted outside vaccine stations such as the vaccine bus in Vienna-Döbling on Sunday.

On Friday, before the government announcement, some 17,000 people turned up for their first shot, according to a report in Der Standard.

On Saturday some 32,000 vaccinations were carried out, most of them being booster doses. Doctors have already administered 213,000 vaccinations this week – the highest number since early August.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg made clear on Sunday that he does not expect the restrictions on the unvaccinated to be lifted within the next six weeks.

“It will probably be a 2G Christmas,” he told the Kronen Zeitung. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler also said that the restrictions would “in all likelihood” still be in effect on New Year’s Eve.

A total of 8,554 new cases of infection with the coronavirus were confirmed nationwide on Sunday, a significant increase on a week ago when 5,684 new cases were reported.

READ MORE: How will Austria’s Covid rules change on November 8th?

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”