In what the Austrian Chancellor, Karl Nehammer, has described as an “opening with a seatbelt”, the Government has terminated national lockdown measures, and has granted each of its nine provinces the power to strengthen or relax their own Covid measures. However, unvaccinated Austrians are denied the right to enter public places that have been allowed to re-open, such as entertainment venues and non-essential shops, with the unjabbed only allowed to leave their homes for buying food, exercise, or going to the doctor. The Guardian has the story.
The rules, which vary by region within the country, largely allow for the reopening of theatres, museums and other cultural and entertainment venues on Sunday. Shops will follow on Monday.
Some regions are reopening restaurants and hotels on Sunday, while others will wait until later in the month. In all cases, there will be an 11pm curfew for restaurants, and masks will still be required on public transport and inside stores and public spaces.
The chancellor, Karl Nehammer, last week called the move an “opening with a seatbelt”, giving each of Austria’s nine regions the ability to loosen or tighten restrictions based on the local situation.
Unvaccinated people will still be subject to the lockdown restrictions and should remain at home for all but a handful of specific reasons, such as buying groceries, going to the doctor or exercising.
Since the start of the lockdown, new case numbers have plummeted in Austria. On Friday, the country reported 367.5 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, down from 1,102.4 on the first day of the lockdown in November.
Hospitalisations from the virus have not dropped as sharply as new case numbers. There are currently 567 Covid patients in intensive care units across the country, only slightly down from 572 on the first day of the lockdown last month.
Austrian officials have stressed that high rates of vaccination are necessary to control the virus. Just 67.7% of the population are fully vaccinated, a relatively low rate for western Europe, and the Government has introduced measures to put increasing pressure on unvaccinated individuals to get the jab.
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