Covid-19 protests: Vienna considers daytime ban on demonstrations

Protests in Vienna might only be allowed to take place in the evening following several weekends of demonstrations in the capital against Covid-19 measures.

Demonstrators carry a banner saying 'No to vaccination' as they pass the State Opera during a previous rally
Demonstrators carry a banner saying 'No to vaccination' as they pass the State Opera during a previous rally. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

From this weekend, the City of Vienna is considering a new rule that will ban protests or demonstrations from taking place in the city centre until after 6pm.

The reason is to ensure businesses are not interrupted during the last weekend of trade before Christmas, with Vienna city centre expected to be busy with shoppers and motorists.

Shops will also be open on Sunday this weekend after special rules were granted to allow retailers to catch up on trade following the latest national lockdown.

READ MORE: How you can get vouchers to eat for free at Vienna restaurants

According to the Kurier, a ban on protests is not usually possible due to basic human rights laws in Austria, but if a protest will cause a “disproportionate disruption to public life” then action can be taken.

A report in the Kleine Zeitung says the demo ban will only take place during retail opening times, although the City of Vienna is currently negotiating with organisers of the Covid-19 protests in a bid to avoid introducing the ban.

Additionally, a planned Wreath of Lights counter-protest on Vienna’s Ringstrasse, planned as a memorial to the victims of Covid-19, will also have to be moved until after 6pm if the legislation is passed. 

READ ALSO: Austria tightens Covid quarantine rules due to Omicron spread

Organisers originally planned a socially-distanced one minute silence while wearing masks and holding candles at 4.30pm. Instead, the Wreath of Lights will start at 6.30pm with a one minute silence at 7pm.

In recent weeks, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets every Saturday in Vienna to protest against Covid-19 measures, including the planned Impfpflicht (mandatory vaccination), as reported by The Local.

Vaccination against Covid-19 is set to be obligatory in Austria from February for all residents older than 14, with exceptions for people that can’t be vaccinated due to health reasons.

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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.”