Will Austria end quarantine and isolation for positive Covid-19 cases?

A virtual meeting between the federal government and state leaders in Austria will take place on Monday with debates on lifting quarantine requirements.

Covid-19 cough
Will Austria drop mandatory isolation for Covid-19 cases? Photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Austria could announce the lifting of isolation and quarantine requirements in Covid-19 cases as the federal government and state representatives meet on Monday to debate pandemic measures.

A draft regulation has circulated in Austrian media, which would institute a so-called “traffic restriction” for those that test positive for coronavirus. Instead of self-isolating for at least five days, infected persons would be allowed outside their homes on certain occasions and with a few restrictions.

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

One possibility is that infected persons would be allowed to go to work and essential stores, but not nursing homes and hospitals, for example.

And that they would need to wear FFP2 masks.

Austrian Health Minister Johannes Rauch confirmed the existence of the draft regulation but said that “nothing is fixed yet”, and the government is working on several options.

‘Dangerous game’

SPÖ health spokesperson Philip Kucher said that the government had abandoned the pandemic management, calling a lifting of isolation requirements “irresponsible and dangerous” and demanding a proper pandemic response plan for the autumn.

“A quarantine end for infected people would be dangerous and could bring the health care system back to its limits. An irresponsible and dangerous game”, he wrote in a statement.

READ ALSO: ‘At the limit: Huge spike in Covid hospitalisations and deaths in Austria

Austria’s federal government can set up the minimum requirements for the country, but individual states could impose stricter rules.

This means that even if the country announces an end of isolation for Covid-19 cases, single states could keep it – which is likely to happen at least in Vienna, where Mayor Michael Ludwig has criticised the opening steps taken by the federal government.

Austrian leaders are set to debate other pandemic measures, according to broadcaster ORF. The meeting will also include topics such as the nationwide distribution of Covid-19 drugs, as well as issues with storing health data.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What are the fines for not wearing masks on Vienna’s public transport?

After the meeting, Rauch will also meet with state health councils on Tuesday, and new measures are expected to be announced in the coming days.

Covid-19 numbers

Austria on Sunday recorded 6,965 new coronavirus cases after 81,456 PCR tests, according to the Health Ministry. There were 1,408 people in hospitals with Covid-19 (22 fewer than the day before) and 87 in intensive care units.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,999 people have died from Covid-19. Only 60.3 percent of the population has a valid immunisation proof (a government-approved combination of vaccines and/or recovery status).

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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.