New rules for meetings: Amendment passes committee

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Vienna, March 19, 2021 – With votes from the governing ÖVP and Green parties, the latest planned amendment to the Epidemic and Covid 19 Measures Act passed the National Council’s health committee yesterday. According to parliamentary correspondence, the amendment includes stricter regulatory options for meetings, for tests and regulates “vaccination privileges.” There were more than 35,000 comments on the original version, and now an amended version has been sent to the plenary.

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) said according to the parliamentary information, the review process had provided valuable feedback, it had also been incorporated many proposals. It is essential that the legal basis for the introduction of the “green passport” in Austria is now created. This is based on the EU Commission’s latest proposal for a Europe-wide “green digital ID”, which is intended to ensure the free movement of persons in times of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Event rule” redefined
The government’s proposed “event rule” has been entirely redefined in the bill. In a sort of negative formulation, it now states, “No gathering of fewer than five persons from fewer than three households, including six minor children of such persons and minors to whom such persons have existing supervisory responsibilities, shall be regulated.”

The regulation on congregations of groups of four or more is now embodied in the Covid 19 Measures Act rather than the Epidemic Act, and thus is temporary and applies only to acts related to the coronavirus crisis. Orders for meetings can only be issued for a maximum of four weeks. In addition, the current draft provides for a time limit of ten days when this regulation affects private living quarters, which may continue to be unchecked anyway.

Testing obligation for vaccinated persons falls
There are also changes to the exit regulations. Shorter restrictions such as night-time curfews should already be possible if contact tracing can no longer be maintained due to the uncontrolled spread of the virus. This is now reverted in principle to a collapse of health services being a prerequisite for the restrictions.

The amendment also includes “vaccination privileges” for the first time. For instance, people vaccinated against Covid-19 will be treated the same as those with a negative test result when entering premises. This was necessary “in light of the ongoing vaccination campaign, also for constitutional reasons,” according to the legal explanations.

In addition, the point that makes exit restrictions possible even when contact tracing is no longer possible was dropped from the amendment after heavy criticism. However, it is no longer necessary to exhaust all mitigating measures before imposing exit restrictions.

— source: orf.at/picture: pixabay.com

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