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Austria to 'pause' Covid mask mandate from June 1st

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Austria to 'pause' Covid mask mandate from June 1st
Austria "paused" its FFP2 mask mandate Photo: Christof STACHE / AFP

The Federal Government has announced the next steps regarding the remaining coronavirus restrictions still in place in the country.

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Austria's federal government has announced a "pause" to the mandatory FFP2 masks in essential trade, such as supermarkets, and public transport from June 1st.

Masks will still need to be worn in health and care facilities, the turquoise-green federal government announced in a press conference this Tuesday, 24th.

"The number of new infections has fallen, as well as the number of people in hospitals due to Covid-19, for several weeks now. This is good news", Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said.

READ ALSO: Austria extends Covid regulations as experts warn of autumn resurgence

Since the last major easing step in mid-April, the FFP2 obligation has only been in force in enclosed spaces of hospitals and homes, public transport and taxis, in the customer area of vital trade, in party traffic of administrative authorities and in institutions for the practice of religion outside trade fairs.

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Rauch stated that the mask requirement will be "paused", as the pandemic is not over yet, and that people should be prepared for a resumption of the rules after summer.

Vienna to "evaluate the situation"

On his social media, Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig stated that the capital's crisis team would meet to evaluate the situation before deciding on whether or not they'd maintain the mask mandate for the city.

The federal government in Austria can make a minimum standard of the Covid regulations, but it is up to the states to decide if they want to keep stricter measures. Vienna has on several occasions announced it wouldn't not follow federal easing, most notably keeping a 2G (only vaccinated or recovered people) rule in the gastronomy for weeks after those rules fell in the rest of the country.

"Based on the committee assessment, we will make a decision for Vienna, which we will communicate promptly", the SPÖ mayor said.

Vaccination mandate is still suspended

Minister of the Constitution Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP) said that the compulsory vaccination law would remain suspended due to the lowering numbers of Covid-19 infections in Austria.

"A focus on the vaccination obligation is currently not justified", she said during the press conference. Still, Edtstadler reiterated a request for the population to get vaccinated: "the vaccine works".

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The minister mentioned that she tested positive for Covid-19 after being three times vaccinated, saying that the vaccine protects against the severe courses of the disease.

BACKGROUND: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s compulsory vaccine mandate could be back in June

Still, Health Minister Rauch reminded people to get the vaccine and get a booster before the autumn months, to protect against possible new variants and hospitalisation. "We will have refresher campaigns from August to prepare for winter", he stated.

No more corona tests in schools

Since the number of positive corona tests is decreasing, all measures are also lifted in schools. From June, there will be no more corona tests for students in schools, stated Minister of Education Martin Polaschek (ÖVP). A weekly PCR test is currently mandatory for class attendance.

In the case of new Covid cases in the a specific class, antigen tests can continue to be carried out," added Polaschek. The epidemiological situation will determine if the testing capabilities will be resumed again in autumn. 

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