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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Demonstrators pass by Vienna's State Opera at a rally against Covid measures.
Demonstrators pass by Vienna's State Opera at a rally against Covid measures and vaccination requirements. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Austria enters new lockdown after weekend of protests

As of midnight, Austria has entered its fourth nationwide lockdown, which Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has said will last a “maximum” of 20 days for people vaccinated against Covid-19. 

The weekend saw around 40,000 people gather to protest the new measures in Vienna according to police estimates. The demonstrations did not see any serious violence, but around ten people were arrested and several protestors carried banners with extremist rhetoric, including comparing the Chancellor to Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele, known for his medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners.

Austria’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer expressed his outrage at these slogans, saying that it “insults the millions of victims of the Nazi dictatorship and their families”.

It wasn’t only the capital that saw protests, with thousands gathering in other cities including Salzburg, Innsbruck and Bregenz as well.

Can I send my child to school today?

This is a question we have been receiving from readers, and the answer is that it’s up to parents to make a decision based on their child’s needs and the infection rate in their area, but to keep them at home if they can. Schools will remain open for face-to-face teaching for those who need it, but the government has urged parents to keep their children at home if possible. This does not require a doctor’s note. You can read more detail on the rules for schools by clicking here.

The latest Covid numbers

Austria’s incidence rate (new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days) is now at 1,102. Salzburg remains the worst affected region with a rate of 1,758 while Vienna has the lowest figure nationwide at 661.

The number of deaths of Covid-19 has now passed 12,000 to reach 12,015 according to Health Ministry data, and there are currently 528 people in intensive care being treated for the virus.

The data on vaccines is positive however. Over the past week, an average of more than 80,000 Covid-19 vaccines have been issued daily, meaning almost one percent of the population has received a dose each day. Most of these are third doses, which enhance the vaccine’s protective effect, with around 10,000 to 20,000 first doses being issued daily too.

Vienna opens more vaccine slots for under-12s

Vienna is opening up another 50,400 Covid vaccination appointments for children aged between five and 11 after the first 9,400 slots were booked up in the first 48 hours. It means the vaccination rate for this age group will increase from 200 vaccines per day to 1,200. Children in this age group are offered the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine only.

The new slots will go online at 2pm today and can be booked by calling telephone on the health hotline 1450 or online via imfpservice.wien. The child’s parent or guardian needs to add their children onto their own account under the heading ‘Personal data’, rather than try to create a new account for the child. 

If you booked a slot already, you should be contacted before 2pm and given the chance to bring your child’s appointment forward.

Vienna is expanding its hospital pandemic plan

Vienna currently has an eight-step plan for its hospitals — it is currently at stage five, with the sixth stage expected to be reached soon.

Vienna’s City Councilor for Health Peter Hacker said that plans for a ninth and tenth stage were now being prepared as a precaution. The goal is to ensure that normal standards of care can be maintained, and stage nine could include having one hospital in the region dedicated to Covid-19 patients only, for example.

New entry rules come into force for Austria today

As of today, proof of 2.5G instead of 3G will be required for entry from abroad — in other words, antigen tests lose their validity. 

The 3G rule continues to apply for commuters, people travelling to Austria for work or university, as well as those travelling for family reasons or to visit a partner. But for these groups there are also changes in test validity. PCR tests will now be valid for 72 hours rather than seven days and antigen tests for 24 hours rather than 48.


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