These are the new Corona measures against Omicron

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On Thursday, the new measures against the Omicron variant were announced. The quarantine will be shortened to five days, after which PCR test is possible. FFP2 masks are mandatory outdoors, unless clearances can be maintained. In addition, the validity of the green passport will be shortened.

The crisis summit of the federal government with representatives of the states and experts of the “all-state Covid crisis coordination” (Gecko) has brought new measures on Epiphany. In future, FFP2 masks will be compulsory outdoors if the distance falls below two meters, and the quarantine for contact persons will be shortened and the control pressure in trade increased, ÖVP Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) explained afterwards.

Quarantine rules to be relaxed
As of January 8, the current quarantine rules will be significantly defused. In the future, there will no longer be a distinction between contact persons of category 1 and 2, but only the term “contact person”. In the future, triple-immunized persons will no longer be considered contact persons even if they come into contact with an infected person. This also applies to doubly vaccinated children who cannot yet boost themselves (in the case of 5- to 11-year-olds). Even if everyone involved has worn an FFP2 mask, one is no longer classified as a contact person. This also applies to children who cannot yet boost (for 5- to 11-year-olds).

Those who are considered contacts can clear themselves on the fifth day using a PCR test; previously, this was only possible from the tenth day. In the case of persons who have tested positive, the period of isolation will in future apply uniformly for ten days; free testing will be possible after five days. Here, too, no distinction is made between virus variants. Contact persons in the critical infrastructure can continue to go to work with a daily valid test and FFP2 mask.

Quarantine rules in the critical infrastructure
Contact persons in the critical infrastructure can continue to work with a daily valid test and FFP2 mask. This group of people includes, in particular, health care personnel, emergency response organizations, critical infrastructure personnel (energy supply, etc.), and personnel to maintain the basic needs of public life. Classification as critical care personnel is made on a case-by-case basis by the responsible health authority – the education sector is also included, according to Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

FFP2 mandatory outdoors
The FFP2 mask will also be mandatory outdoors as of January 11 – in fact, everywhere where a two-meter distance is not possible. This will apply, for example, in pedestrian zones, waiting lines, group gatherings, etc. Exceptions are made for close relatives such as partners and children. The federal states can independently impose an additional obligation to wear a mask in heavily frequented places.

Validity of the green passport shortened to 6 months
In addition, it has been agreed to reduce the validity of the Green Passport to six months, this will apply from February 1 – for all those who have so far been vaccinated twice. For triple vaccinated the validity remains at nine months. The aim is to ensure that people continue to take advantage of the third sting, Nehammer said.

Rules in schools
For class or group vaccination in educational institutions, the rules remain the same as before. Until the end of the fourth grade, contact persons are generally not classified as high-risk contacts. Only if there are several positive cases in the same class or group within five days will the definable areas of the class or group be sent to Distance Learning.

Beginning with the fifth grade level, only close contacts and direct seat neighbors continue to be classified as high-risk contacts. Similarly, here, no contact classification occurs if mask was worn consistently and throughout.

Retail must control 2G – “Action sharp” announced
As early as January 10, there will be a “sharp action” for 2G controls. As of January 11, this will be followed by mandatory checks in retail outlets. At “interaction points” (e.g. at the entrance or at the latest when paying at the cash desk), the 2G status will have to be checked. As of February 3, it will also be possible to impose temporary bans (e.g., store closures) in the event of violations of COVID measures. There are also plans to increase the penalties – as yet unspecified – from February 3.

Nehammer does not want to rule out lockdown
Chancellor Karl Nehammer spoke of a “very serious and challenging situation”. The virus is “omnipresent and dangerous because it is always changing,” he said. The new variant Omicron brings new challenges. Nehammer does not want to rule out a lockdown, but instead he appeals to “help together in such a way that you can fight against it.”

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein also spoke of a paradigm shift through Omicron. This variant is many times more contagious, he said, yet it appears to be milder. Whereas with Delta, one in four hospitalized patients required intensive care, with Omicron it was only one in ten. “But that’s not an all-clear,” Mückstein said, adding that Omicron could cause many people to become infected at the same time, putting critical infrastructure at risk.

The intensity of the fifth Corona wave has clearly accelerated in Austria recently. On Epiphany, 8,853 new cases were reported, up from just under 10,000 the day before.

— sources: APA/vienna.at/picture: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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