As more and more countries double-down on their lockdown restrictions due Covid-19 case numbers still remaining high, Austria is taking the opposite route, with the country set to ease some restrictions imposed on its citizens whilst simultaneously extending the duration of the lockdown. On top of this, the country has pledged to tighten border controls, as it looks to prevent importing cases of the Covid-19 variants that are at large around the world. Here’s what we know about the lockdown in Austria, and why further testing may be the key to opening the country up fully.
Austria’s Lockdown – Why Is It Being Eased?
Austria’s current lockdown started on December 26th, and is the third full-scale lockdown of its type in the country, with previous efforts demonstrating some levels of success in March and November of last year. Speaking yesterday, Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that certain aspects of the current lockdown will be eased from February 8th, with the lockdown itself being extended beyond that date.
The decision to ease the lockdown has been taken with mental health in mind. Whilst the country is far from its 7-day average target of 50 daily cases, currently averaging 1,400, Kurz explained that the government also had to consider the social and psychological effects that lockdown was having on its citizens. The new, revised restrictions reflect a balance between the effects a lockdown may have on both physical and mental health.
Restrictions Relaxed – Information For Travelers
From February 8th, several rules and restrictions will be relaxed that will help daily life start to resemble life as we knew it before the pandemic. The current 24-hour stay at home order will be altered, applying only between 8PM and 6AM, whilst two households will be able to meet during the day for the first time in weeks. Smaller retail shops are to be permitted to open, with compulsory mask wearing to be enforced when inside, with the same rule also applying to museums, zoos and libraries. Schools, hairdressers and beauty services are also set to open – but there will be constant testing in order to minimize the risk of the virus spreading.
Hairdressers have been closed in Austria since December 24th, and the decision to allow them to open has seen salons and barbers across the country become inundated with bookings. In order to be able to enter a hairdressers – or tattoo and beauty parlors – customers must provide a negative Covid-19 test that is less than 48 hours old.
Testing to gain entry is a system that the Austrian government hopes to implement for more services in the country, such as bars and restaurants, and so it may well be seen as a trial run to test the feasibility of the scheme. Free tests are widely available in Austria, in pharmacies and purpose-built testing facilities.
Stricter Border Rules – What Do We Know?
Chancellor Kurz also announced on Monday that Austria was to implement stricter border controls in order to prevent the mutated strains from entering the country. However, at present there has been no further elaboration on how the country plans to do this.
France, Portugal and Germany have recently introduced new restrictions, including banning non-EU travel, so Austria may follow suit and announce a series of bans to prevent the importation of any cases.
Subscribe to our Latest Posts
Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories