Vienna: Austria has announced plans to drop most of its Covid – 19 restrictions from March 5, despite high infection numbers in recent days.
The Austrian government had already eased coronavirus restrictions earlier this month, saying the situation in the country’s hospitals had stabilized due to the Omicron variant being relatively milder, Xinhua news agency reported.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told a news conference on Wednesday February 16 that as of March 5, entry requirements such as vaccination, recovery from the virus or a negative test result, as well as most other restrictions will be scrapped.
Early closing times for restaurants and bars will be lifted, and nightclubs will be allowed to reopen. However, mask-wearing will remain mandatory in high-risk areas such as hospitals and nursing homes.
“We have not yet overcome the pandemic,” Nehammer told Austrian broadcaster ORF, but he said that the situation is improving.
Daily infections in Austria have been hovering around 30,000 in recent weeks.
However, despite the relaxing of restrictions, Austria’s health authorities said on Wednesday that they will stick to the vaccine mandate introduced in early February. This makes vaccination against Covid – 19 compulsory for all adults in Austria.
“Vaccination is our way out of the pandemic,” said health minister Wolfgang Mueckstein. “We must use the summer to vaccinate so that we are not surprised by a new variant in the fall.”
Nevertheless, ORF reported that a commission of experts has been convened to review the suitability of the sweeping vaccine mandate, the first of its kind in any European Union country.