Third Lockdown in Austria confirmed

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Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Friday confirmed the third hard lockdown for Austria starting Dec. 27. The period after Christmas is to usher in a “return to normality” in three phases. In the first phase, the numbers are to be decreased by tightened measures, phase 2 is to keep Corona cases down by mass testing, and in the third phase, vaccination is finally to bring the hoped-for relief. Regulations for December 24 and 25 remain in place, but there is now an all-day curfew on New Year’s Eve.

“We have decided that we will spend Christmas as planned, but tighten the measures again after that,” Kurz said. Thus, the goal is to achieve a 7-day incidence of less than 100 and then keep the numbers low through mass testing.

The most important key points of the new lockdown were already known before the press conference and were also confirmed: Schools will begin ten days of distance learning after the extended vacations starting January 7. From 18 January, regular face-to-face classes are to be held again – if the infection figures allow. Retail, catering and leisure facilities are also to reopen on 18 January under strict safety regulations.

Compulsory FFP2 mask for test refusers
From December 26 and until January 24, exit restrictions will again apply throughout the day. The complete shutdown of the country is scheduled to end this time on January 18, at least for participants in the Corona mass tests. Those who get tested during the second round of antigen tests on Jan. 15, 16 and 17 can acquire more freedoms, such as shopping in stores or meeting with another household during the day. Those who do not get tested will still have to live with all-day curfew restrictions and wear an FFP2 mask in addition to going to work or grocery shopping; a simple mouth-nose protector will no longer suffice. “For all those who are not willing to be tested, the rules of the lockdown will apply one week longer,” the chancellor said.

Starting Jan. 18, he said, the focus will be on large-scale and regular testing for certain occupational groups. “The goal is that from January 18, despite the pandemic, we will again make it possible to take a vacation in Austria or visit a cultural institution, but with a test conducted beforehand,” Kurz said.

Participation in the Corona mass tests will be mandatory for the following professional groups:

Teachers and elementary educators
Hairdressers and body-related services
Retail (only if direct customer contact)
Transportation (all occupations with passenger contact)
Health (all professions with patient contact)
Construction (preferably at company level)

— hp, report will be updated! Source: orf.at/press conference on 18.12.2020, picture: orf.at screenshot

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