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COVID-19

How does Austria’s Covid ‘traffic light’ risk classification work?

Each week, Austria's Corona Commission updates a 'traffic light' risk classification for each of Austria's regions. Here's a closer look at how it works.

There are now five colours in the covid traffic light system.
There are now five colours in the covid traffic light system. (Photo by DIETER NAGL / AFP)

The traffic light system, first rolled out in August 2020, was updated in June 2021 when a fifth category, “very low risk” or “green” was added.

You can see the risk level by individual state by clicking on this interactive map.

What does each colour mean?

The levels are: green (very low risk), yellow-green (low risk), yellow (medium risk), orange (high risk) and red (acute). 

A region will be green where there is very low risk, defined as up to five new infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

A region will be yellow-green where there is low risk due to individual cases and heavily isolated clusters

A region will be yellow where there are individual cases but the clusters are less isolated, or medium risk.

A region will be deemed orange where there has been an accumulation of cases and clusters are no longer traceable. 

Finally, a region will be deemed red – i.e. high risk – where the outbreaks are uncontrolled and the virus is widespread. 

How are decisions made? 

Austria’s coronavirus traffic light system was launched in August 2020 as a preventative tool to manage risks and assess the need for pandemic containment measures, such as  testing and contact tracing.

An expert committee, with input from Austria’s Coronavirus Commission, the Health Department and the Chancellery will decide whether a region needs to be made a particular colour. 

The committee takes into account a wide range of factors in making the decisions. 

In addition to considering local infection rates over seven days, the traffic light level also takes into account factors such as: 

  • Hospital occupancy
  • Traceability of infection chains
  • Testing rates

The Corona Commission does not have the power to make political decisions as it is an advisory body.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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