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UPDATED: Will Austria drop quarantine and isolation for positive Covid-19 cases?

Though new coronavirus infections have been rising in Austria, many people are asking for the quarantine and isolation rules to be eased. Will they be?

UPDATED: Will Austria drop quarantine and isolation for positive Covid-19 cases?
Will Austria remove its quarantine and isolation requirements for Covid? (Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash)

There are now very few coronavirus restrictions in Austria, as the summer months arrived and the new variants seem to bring milder cases. Still, the country has a strict isolation policy for those who test positive for the virus. Is this about to change?

Currently, in Austria, a person who has tested positive for coronavirus (and confirmed it with a PCR test) needs to be isolated for at least five days. However, in most of the country, if this person has had a mild or asymptomatic course and no symptoms for the last 48 hours, they are automatically allowed to leave their homes as long as they follow some restrictions.

READ ALSO: LATEST: These are the Covid rules in Austria and Vienna

For the next five days, they need to wear an FFP2 mask whenever in contact with other people, are not allowed to visit facilities with vulnerable persons, are not allowed in bars and restaurants or events, and need to wear masks while in their place of work.

Alternatively, they can get a PCR test on their fifth day of infection. If that test is negative or with a CT value higher than 30 (this will be shown in your test results), they are free from isolation without needing to wear masks or follow other regulations.

In Vienna, however, rules are a bit different. There is no such a thing as this intermediate stage. In the capital, if a person wants to leave isolation on the fifth day, they need to have had no symptoms for the last 48 hours and also either test negative or have a CT value higher than 30.

Or they have to wait for ten days until their isolation period ends automatically.

Are the rules about to change?

There have been calls for these rules to change.

Especially as the new variants seem to result in milder Covid-19 cases while being more infectious, the number of people having to stay at home for days with no symptoms or almost no symptoms has increased in Austria.

It has affected several industries with staff issues, from schools to supermarkets. Austrian Airlines had to cancel scores of flights to and from Vienna after a large number of employees called in sick with Covid-19, as The Local reported.

READ ALSO: Austria sees scores of flight cancellations after airline staff contract Covid

Austrian media has reported on a draft regulation dropping quarantine requirements for a “traffic restriction”, a status that would allow people to leave their homes if they test positive as long as they follow certain restrictions, such as wearing an FFP2 mask, for example.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed the existence of the draft papers, but reiterated that no decisions have been made yet. The changes could come as early as August 1st, the report added.

During the so-called “traffic restriction”, infected people would possibly not be allowed to go to certain areas or events events, but could go to work and outside for daily needs. These people would have to wear FFP2 masks everywhere, except when outdoors when the minimum distance of two meters can be maintained, the report added. 

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

There will possibly be bans on entry for infected people in particularly vulnerable settings (health care facilities, kindergartens, elementary schools), according to the drafted text. However, those with Covid-19 should allowed to visit restaurants, discos and clubs, swimming pools or sports facilities if they wear the mask there.

The text could go through changes before a final version is announced.

Regardless of the federal government decision, individual states could still impose their own more restrictive measures.

This is already happening when It comes to infected people leaving their isolation after the fifth day – in most of Austria, they go to this restriction phase even without test out, but in Vienna people must test out of isolation if they want to resume normal live after five days of the first positive test result.

What is the current Covid-19 situation in Austria?

Austria this Thursday recorded 14,070 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours – 114,580 PCR tests were made. There are 1,390 people in hospitals with Covid-19 (38 fewer than yesterday) and 80 in intensive care units (four more).

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,987 people have died from Covid-19 in Austria. Only 60.4 percent of the population has the required protection (three valid vaccinations or recent recovery), according to the Health Ministry.

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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.