Vienna announces stricter Covid rules in hospitals to protect the ‘vulnerable’

After consultation with experts, the mayor of the Austrian capital has announced stricter measures to contain rising Covid-19 infections.

Vienna announces stricter Covid rules in hospitals to protect the 'vulnerable'
Vienna city Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ). (Copyright: C.Jobst/PID)

Vienna will bring back an FFP2 mask mandate for workers in hospitals and care homes and reduce the number of visitors allowed, Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ announced on Thursday.

“We have a new situation; this is the first time that we have a wait in July”, said the mayor.

He added that this new wave had put particularly more pressure on employees in the health sector who need to deal with high infection numbers, getting Covid themselves and the high season of holiday.

“We are in a sensitive phase. The travel events have two implications. On the one hand, the Viennese will come back from holiday countries, and on the other hand, many holidaymakers from abroad would also come to Vienna.”

READ ALSO: Travel: What Covid rules are in place when visiting Austria this summer?

The Vienna way

During the pandemic, the capital often kept stricter measures than the rest of Austria. Vienna has a mask mandate for public transport – a restriction that no longer applies elsewhere.

From now on, workers in hospitals and care homes will have to wear an FFP2 mask and fewer visitors are allowed at once, he added. According to the mayor, the limit will be three PCR-tested visitors per patient per day.

READ ALSO: Is Austria heading for a summer Covid wave and could face masks return?

The Viennese mayor reiterated the importance of the Covid-19 vaccination, especially booster shots and the fourth dose ahead of the next wave. He said Vienna would bring more capacity for vaccination centres. In the Austrian capital, people older than 12 can have a fourth dose four months after the third.

“We have seen an increase in demand for the vaccine in the last days”, he added.

“I believe that the federal government should also adapt to the given conditions. Testing should be rolled out again widely, and the fourth dose should be advertised extensively.”

Rising Covid-19 cases

On Wednesday, Vienna has 3,352 new infections with the coronavirus. In total, the federal capital currently records 46,530 active cases.

According to the authorities, Vienna has higher Covid numbers compared to the rest of Austria partially because it tests more than the other regions.

On Thursday, 11,971 new infections were reported throughout Austria. There are 1,024 hospitals with Covid-19 and 63 in intensive care units.

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Austrian court rules certain bans for unvaccinated were ‘unconstitutional’

Austria's constitutional court found that banning unvaccinated people from going to hairdressers or cultural institutions was unconstitutional

Austrian court rules certain bans for unvaccinated were 'unconstitutional'

The Constitutional Court (VfGH) has found a regulation which stopped people from going to hairdressers in the second lockdown for the unvaccinated was unconstitutional and, therefore, illegal.

However, the Court of Justice did confirm it was admissible to distinguish between people with and without 2G evidence (proof they had recovered from or been vaccinated against Covid-19), meaning the lockdown for the unvaccinated was itself legal.

READ ALSO: Four options: These are Austria’s autumn Covid lockdown plans

As there were exceptions to the lockdown, allowing people without vaccinations to leave their homes to “cover the necessary basic needs of daily life”, this should have included trips to the hairdressers as part of these “basic needs” on a long term, the court ruled.

It clarified that the rules were at first supposed to last for 10 days, but as the lockdown got extended several times, lasting a total of 11 weeks, the “basic needs” evolved and should have included hairdresser visits.

According to the Constitutional Court, it was also illegal for the government to ban unvaccinated people from entering cultural institutions in autumn 2021.

In this case, the reason was that people were still allowed to go to church and other places of religion, which the court found was “in violation of equality”.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The Covid rules across Austria from August 2022

The court found the ban on entering sports facilities ordered by the Minister of Health during the first lockdown in March and April 2020 was also unlawful, as there was not sufficient justification, broadcaster ORF reported.

Strict Covid-19 measures

Austria was one of the countries which imposed several lockdown periods during the pandemic, as The Local reported. While some were aimed at the entire population, more recently, only those who didn’t get vaccinated against Covid-19 were prevented from going out of their homes without a justification (such as grocery shopping or emergencies).

The country had also imposed a Covid-19 vaccination mandate, but that was scrapped after new variants of the virus evolved into less severe cases of the disease, the government said.

Currently, there are few coronavirus restrictions in place. You can check out all the measures across Austria here.