Vienna tightens rules for Covid-19 tests

The validity of both PCR and antigen Covid tests has been shortened in Vienna as of Wednesday, in a bid to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Vienna tightens rules for Covid-19 tests
Covid tests will be valid for a shorter period of time from September in Austria. Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash

Covid-19 tests will allow access to bars and restaurants for a shorter period of time from 1st September in Vienna, Mayor Michael Ludwig announced on Tuesday.

Antigen tests taken in a test centre or pharmacy will be valid for just 24 hours, while the PCR test validity will be reduce from 72 to 48 hours.

Tests are required to enter anywhere where the 3G rule applies in Austria, unless people have been vaccinated or recently recovered from the virus. 

‘3G Rule’: How to prove you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid in Austria

The changes will not apply to children aged under 12, who are not eligible to be vaccinated.

Why is the test rule being tightened? 

While Austria was one of the most enthusiastic adopters of a widespread testing regime, the government is making the change in order to encourage people to be vaccinated rather than rely on tests. 

People must show that they have tested negative, recovered from or been vaccinated against Covid-19 to access restaurants, bars and sporting and recreational facilities in Austria’s capital, so the move will make life harder for people who have not been vaccinated.   

3G to 1G: Could Austria make bars, gyms, hairdressers and events ‘vaccinated only’?

Vienna is considering stricter measures to turn the screws on the unvaccinated, including the so-called ‘1G’ rule which would restrict entry in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hairdressers and gyms to the unvaccinated only. 

Vienna officials, including health chief Peter Hacker, are in favour of this plan. 

As at August 25th, Austrian federal authorities said they are in the process of considering such a plan. 

Several Austrian states have indicated they are in favour of this idea, however have preferred a federal solution rather than going it alone. 

READ MORE: How Vienna wants to restrict restaurants and events to vaccinated people only

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Why the statue of a controversial former Vienna mayor will be tilted

Rather than tear it down, or leave it untouched, an expert panel in Vienna has recommended tilting the statue of a controversial former mayor 3.5 degrees to the right.

Why the statue of a controversial former Vienna mayor will be tilted

Karl Lueger was an extremely popular Vienna mayor from 1897 to 1910. Yet, over a hundred years later, he remains a widely discussed figure in Austrian history due to his antisemitic views and politics. Now, an expert committee has proposed tilting his statue as a nod to his controversial legacy.

His time in office came during a Viennese golden age. Karl Lueger brought both fresh running water and gas to the Austrian capital for the first time. While he was mayor, the city saw the heyday of Austrian historical heavyweights like Gustav Mahler, Gustav Klimt, and Sigmund Freund. Under Lueger, the city built the public transport foundations Vienna is still known for today.

But he was also one of the most notorious antisemites in Austrian history. Historians widely agree that his rhetoric against Jewish people was a key inspiration for Adolf Hitler in the decades that followed. In Mein Kampf, Hitler described Lueger as “the most terrific German mayor of all time.”

Lueger is noted to have employed common antisemitic rhetoric to mobilise Vienna’s middle classes into blaming Jews for social problems. He called Jews “specialists in vile profits” and accused them of “expropriation of the indigenous population.”

In recent years, Vienna has struggled to deal with his controversial legacy. In 2012, the city renamed the “Karl Lueger Ring” road to “University Ring,” something the far-right Freedom Party called a “scandal” at the time. In 2021, at a time when crowds in Bristol toppled the statue of British slave trader Edward Colston, Vienna chose to leave Lueger’s four-metre-high bronze statue standing. He also still has a bridge and a square named in his honour.

Rather than tear it down, or leave it untouched, a city expert panel has recommended tilting Lueger’s statue 3.5 degrees to the right, as a way to “contextualize” his legacy.

“With racist rhetoric and populism, Karl Lueger made antisemitism a political program,” a tweet from the City of Vienna noted.

After convening an expert panel of artists and political experts, Vienna went with the tilting proposal from artist Klemens Wihlidal, noting that it would show how Austrian society was breaking away from uncritical praise of the former mayor.

City officials have so far not said precisely when the statue will be changed.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Just how widespread is anti-Semitism in Austria?