Vienna and Burgenland no longer classed as ‘very high risk’ for Covid

Austria's Corona Commission has downgraded two regions from red to orange zones, but warned that the slight easing in pressure on the healthcare sector could change quickly due to the spread of the Omicron variant.

Vienna is one of the regions now classed as 'high risk' rather than 'very high risk' for Covid, but Omicron could reverse the positive development. Photo: Anton/Unsplash

Vienna and Burgenland are now considered orange or “high risk” after several weeks of all nine regions being classed as red or “very high risk”.

Despite the positive change, the Corona Commission warned that the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant would likely lead to a new wave of infections bringing “significant economic and social harm”.

According to AGES, the seven-day incidence rate (new cases reported per 100,000 inhabitants) has fallen to 157 in Burgenland and 214 in Vienna, below the nationwide average of 276.

READ ALSO: What are the current Covid rules in Austria?

The commission calculates its risk figures on a number of factors, including the incidence rate but also hospital occupancy, traceability of infection chains and the test positivity rate in the region. It gives each region a risk level number, and a score above 100 automatically means a classification of red or “very high risk”. Across Austria, the commission’s risk levels currently range from 69 in Burgenland to 400 in Vorarlberg.

The traffic light risk classification has four levels: green (very low risk), yellow-green (low risk), yellow (medium risk), orange (high risk) and red (very high risk). These levels do not directly trigger new sets of restrictions, but they are taken into account by regional and national leaders when deciding on Covid measures.

Burgenland came out of lockdown entirely on December 12th, while Vienna re-opened retail and events on that day but will not re-open gastronomy (restaurants and cafes) or hotels until December 20th. 

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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.”