Austria will remove the mandatory self-isolation requirement for people who test positive for Covid-19 from August 1st, as The Local reported on Tuesday.
People who do not feel sick will be allowed to leave their homes even after a positive Covid-19 test but will have to follow specific requirements, the Austrian federal government said.
The so-called “traffic restrictions” mean that those who don’t feel sick will be allowed to leave their homes but must wear an FFP2 mask indoors and outdoors whenever social distancing is not possible.
Many experts are sceptical of the plans, though, calling them “irresponsible and dangerous” and warning that such a move could bring the health care system back to its limits.
What are the contingency plans for autumn?
One of the biggest fears is what will happen in the autumn and winter months when the cold brings people to enclosed areas and facilitates the spread of airborne viruses such as the coronavirus.
The federal government is reportedly working on a contingency plan, according to the newspaper Heute, which claims to have seen drafts of the plans.
It envisages four scenarios – numbered from the best to the worst case. In the best case scenario, Austrians can live free of any pandemic rules. In the second best, the situation will remain as it is currently.
In scenario three, if new variants lead to more severe illness, the mask requirement will be expanded and more testing will be carried out.
There could be night-time exit restrictions, exit tests and restrictions on private meetings. In addition, major events could be stopped from taking place and nightclubs closed.
Scenario four, the worst case scenario, would mean vaccination no longer offered protection and hospitals became overwhelmed, leading to severe restrictions on people’s social lives.
If all other protective measures fail, the last resort will be a new lockdown. “An early, short, but stringent lockdown – if not avoidable – is preferable”, the drafted plan states.
Covid-19 infections appear to be falling
While there is no sure prediction of what will happen in the next few months, currently, Covid-19 infections appear to be falling in Austria.
Austria’s Covid-19 traffic light system has classified Tyrol and Vorarlberg as a medium risk rather than high risk. Only Carinthia and Vienna saw an increase in infections. Styria has the lowest risk assessment, while Vienna has the highest.
The situation in the hospitals is currently relatively stable, both in terms of normal and intensive care units.