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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Salzburg street
The lockdown for unvaccinated people is in effect from today, with more measures such as a curfew for everyone being mulled by the Health Minister. Photo: Zhang Xiaoyu/Unsplash
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

New Covid rules apply from today

As of today, Monday November 15th, people who do not have proof of 2G (full vaccination or recent recovery from Covid-19) may only leave the house for certain essential purposes such as attending work, food shopping, seeking medical care or essential exercise. This applies nationwide for ten days to begin with and to everyone over the age of 12, while teenagers aged 12-15 may show a negative test result.

FFP2 masks must be worn wherever 2G is not required, for example in hairdressers, salons, public transport, museums and libraries. This applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

There are also new specific sets of rules in Salzburg, Upper Austria and Vienna. Catch up on the rules in the following articles:

How did we get here, and what next?

Austria’s Covid cases have been rising rapidly in recent weeks, and the lowest vaccination rate in western Europe means a higher proportion of the population are more highly susceptible to catching and spreading the virus and of getting seriously ill from it. The healthcare sector and intensive care units are under strain as a result.

Last week, a lockdown for the unvaccinated — stage five in Austria’s five-step plan — was announced first for Upper Austria and Salzburg, the two regions driving the recent rise in cases. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said he was in favour of nationwide measures, and on Sunday the partial lockdown was confirmed for the whole country.

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein called for the measures to go even further, and said that on Wednesday — ten days after a nationwide 2G rule was brought in — the existing measures will be evaluated, and the possible introduction of further restrictions for everyone including vaccinated people will be discussed.

This is likely to include the 2G+ (vaccination/recovery and a negative PCR test) rule being brought in for Vienna, and the further extension of the FFP2 mask mandate. Other measures which the Health Minister said were on the table are the closure of all evening bars and restaurants, and a possible 10pm curfew for everyone regardless of vaccination status.

Vaccinations for over-5s in Vienna

As well as introducing its extra Covid measures, the capital region has also made changes to its vaccination plan, including rolling out first doses for the 5-11 age group. 

These have already been offered by some family doctors and at certain vaccination sites even though the European Medicines Agency has not yet officially approved the vaccine’s use in this age group, but now they are being offered at the Austria Centre, the city’s largest vaccination centre. By 5pm on Sunday, 9,216 bookings had been made. Appointments can be booked using the Wien Impft (Vienna vaccinates) portal and adding a child to an existing profile.

Masks alone no longer sufficient to enter workplaces

As of today, the ‘transition period’ in the 3G rule for workplaces is over, meaning that people must show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test to enter a workspace unless they can totally rule out the possibility of close contact with others (such as long-distance truck drivers). For the first two weeks after the rule was brought in on November 1st, an FFP2 mask could be worn as an alternative to showing 3G.

What else can we expect this week?

Covid-19 is dominating the headlines this morning, but today also marks the start of the November parliamentary plenary session. Former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is set to have his parliamentary immunity removed, in connection to the corruption allegations that saw him step down from his role last month.

We will also see a debate over the recently proposed budget, and details for a bottle deposit scheme (called Pfand, where you pay a refundable deposit with every purchase of a recyclable bottle or can) will be set out. The latter is only set to come into effect from 2025.


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