Vienna to further tighten Covid measures from October

As Covid-19 case rates and intensive care admissions continue to rise in Vienna, restrictions are set to be tightened again in the capital.

A Schanigarten in Vienna. Photo: By KF (Transfered by Fg68at) - Original uploaded on en.wikipedia, Public Domain,
A Schanigarten in Vienna. Photo: By KF (Transfered by Fg68at) - Original uploaded on en.wikipedia, Public Domain,

Despite Covid-19 rules in Vienna already being stricter than elsewhere in Austria, they will be tightened further on October 1st.

Mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) presented the new measures at a press conference in Vienna on Tuesday 21st September after consulting with a team of medical experts.

The restrictions include a 2-G rule for late night catering venues and gatherings of more than 500 people (indoor and outdoor), which means only vaccinated or recovered people will be allowed access.

For employees of late night venues, there will be a 2.5G rule – vaccinated, recovered or a negative PCR test.

READ MORE: Could you lose unemployment benefits in Austria for refusing Covid-19 vaccine?

Additionally, it will be mandatory for customers to wear an FFP2 mask in all shops, including non-essential retail. Employees can wear a cloth nose and mouth protection.

The new rules will initially be implemented for one month and will only apply to people aged 12 and over.

Antigen tests no longer valid for gastronomy

In gastronomy, a negative antigen test will no longer be valid proof of the 3-G’s (vaccinated, recovered, tested). People who are not vaccinated or recovered will only be able to gain entry with a negative PCR test.

Ludwig also spoke in favour of the 2.5-G rule in the general workplace, but said such a move would have to be mandated by the Federal Government.

He added that the purpose of the new measures was to encourage more people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

At the press conference, Michael Binder, Medical Director of the Vienna Health Association, said nine out of ten intensive care patients were not vaccinated. The few vaccinated people with severe infections mostly had previous health conditions.

There are currently 214 people in hospital in Vienna with Covid-19 and some non-urgent surgeries are already being postponed in line with level five restrictions.

Ludwig added that hospital staff are reaching their limit.

READ ALSO: Will travellers vaccinated with AstraZeneca in Europe be able to enter the US?

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‘The pandemic is not over’: Vienna keeps mask rule in public transport

Austria's capital has decided to keep mandatory FFP2 masks in public transport but is dropping them in supermarkets.

'The pandemic is not over': Vienna keeps mask rule in public transport

Austria’s capital Vienna will still have mandatory usage of FFP2 masks even if the federal government is dropping the requirement in the rest of the country.

It will still be mandatory in Vienna to wear masks when public transport, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and hospitals, SPÖ Mayor Michael Ludwig announced this Tuesday.

People no longer will need to wear masks in supermarkets and other essential trade, though. The decision was taken after a meeting with the city crisis committee and health authorities, according to the mayor.

“The pandemic is not over yet. We will remain on the consistent and safe path”, Ludwig said.

Earlier this Tuesday, Austria’s Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) had announced the country would “pause” mask requirements from June 1st in all but health establishments during the summer months, as reported.

READ ALSO: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

Rauch justified the decision by saying that the coronavirus numbers, both of new infections and of hospitalised people, have significantly dropped and maintained a downwards trend for weeks.

“The number of new infections has fallen, as well as the number of people in hospitals due to Covid-19, for several weeks now. This is good news”, he said.

Since the last major easing step in mid-April, the FFP2 obligation has only been in force in enclosed spaces of hospitals and homes, public transport and taxis, in the customer area of vital trade, in party traffic of administrative authorities and in institutions for the practice of religion outside trade fairs.

However, the federal government sets out the minimum standard for the country, but the different states may adopt stricter measures. Vienna has often kept tougher regulations during the pandemic, including a more extended period when only vaccinated or recovered people were allowed in bars and restaurants.

Vaccination campaign

The Viennese mayor also commented on the suspended vaccine mandate law, stating that vaccination protects and the city would have a “corresponding vaccination campaign soon”.

Ludwig added that he would demand the same from the federal government. “All of this is done to protect the health of the Viennese population”, he said.

Austria this Tuesday reported 2,177 new coronavirus infections after 185,230 PCR tests, according to the Health Ministry. Currently, there are 596 people hospitalised with Covid-19 and 57 in intensive care units.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,607 people have died from Covid-19 in the country.