Austria eases coronavirus restrictions amid drop in virus cases

Further restrictions on the coronavirus are due to end in Austria on July 1, with a curfew will be imposed due to the cancellation of the crisis.

This means that the hospitality industry will be able to open to customers again in the evenings with initially somewhat reduced capacity, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in Vienna on Thursday.

"People can dance, get married, celebrate," he said.

The infection situation is much better than generally expected, Kurz said, referring to the seven-day incidence rate of 15 new infections per 100,000 people in a week.

"We can take further big steps towards normality," Kurz said.

In bars, restaurants and clubs, the obligation to wear an FFP2 mask will now also be waived for employees, Tourism Minister Elisabeth Koestinger explained.

As previously announced, art, culture and sport can be experienced again in their full breadth from July 1, State Secretary for Culture Andrea Mayer said. All events will then be possible without upper limits for audience numbers, she said.

Events with the standing room will then also be allowed again. Instead of compulsory FFP2 masks, it will be sufficient to cover the mouth and nose in shops, on buses and trains and in museums, she said.

Furthermore, guests must have a negative coronavirus test, have recovered from an infection, or be vaccinated against COVID-19 when visiting restaurants or events. From July 1, however, only those who are at least 12 years old must be tested. On July 22, further relaxations are to come into force.

Kurz said that Austria had made significant progress in vaccination, with more than half of the population having been vaccinated at least once.

The testing strategy with about 400,000 tests per day had also proven successful.

The delta variant of the coronavirus, on the other hand, could dampen hopes for a further easing of the situation, said Oswald Wagner, vice-rector of the Medical University of Vienna, but he added that vaccination also provides a very high level of protection against this variant.

(c) Daily Sabah


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