On Wednesday, the Council of Ministers gave the green light for the first corona mass tests and the vaccination strategy. What is new is that the western provinces of Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Salzburg will start their mass tests for the population earlier. Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) also announced that the Council of Ministers would decide on an opening plan next week. But it is already clear that the schools and retail outlets will be the first to open on 7 December – subject to security measures.
“Corona infection rates are decreasing, but are still at such a high level that I urgently request the population to continue to adhere to corona measures,” Kurz appealed, announcing only “very cautious, slow opening steps” after the lockdown. “We will certainly not rush into anything.” Whether there will be regulations for Christmas and New Year’s Eve similar to those in Germany, and how many people may be hit, will depend heavily on the infection figures.
The Chancellor described the fact that the Western countries are now starting earlier with mass tests as a relief. It is also logical that regional states and urban areas need more time. Area-wide tests would only make sense if they were repeated, and further compliance with security measures was also necessary. Kurz and Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) emphasized that the pandemic would not end with the first mass tests.
“Mass testing is not a panacea, but a good chance to localize infections in the population and prevent further contagion. We should use every opportunity to prevent or at least shorten further lockdowns,” Kurz said.
Education Minister Heinz Fassmann (ÖVP) emphasized that the tests are “voluntary and free of charge” for teachers. However, he called for the broadest possible participation, “because the more teachers who take the tests, the more useful they are”. He also made it clear, however, that teachers who do not take the tests will probably have to wear masks.
The teacher tests are organized with the help of the Austrian Armed Forces, which on Wednesday issued the order for the test. The deployment will take place as an assistant deployment, which has been applied for by the health authorities.
The Armed Forces are responsible for planning, preparation, construction and operation of the test stations in cooperation with the local authorities. The test stations are determined by the states in cooperation with the health and education authorities. The NBC Defense Center will draw up a hygiene and safety concept for the test roads. Personnel reinforcement measures by militiamen are possible on a voluntary basis.
— hp with reports from krone.at. picture: pixabay.com
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