Austria to ease Covid-19 lockdown by opening schools and shops, while tightening borders to hinder arrival of new variants
Schools and non-essential shops in Austria will reopen next week as the country loosens its lockdown, though border measures will be tightened to stop Covid-19 variants coming in, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said.
From February 8, schoolkids will have to furnish negative coronavirus test results in order to attend their classes, while shoppers will have to wear the higher-grade FFP2 face masks, which are already mandatory on public transport and in essential shops.
Austria will also reopen museums, galleries, libraries and zoos, and will switch from its current 24-hour ban on movement to overnight curfews between 8pm and 6am.
Hairdressers, tattoo parlors and massage services will also be permitted, but only people who have presented a negative Covid-19 test from the last 48 hours will be allowed in.Also on rt.com Covid-19 school closures could cost UK children £350bn in lost earnings, economy research group says
At the same time as the relaxation of Austria’s domestic measures, Kurz announced a major clampdown on the country’s borders would be brought in to prevent the entrance of mutated forms of coronavirus.
The chancellor did not elaborate on the border measures, but did speak about the more infectious P.1 Covid-19 variant first discovered in Brazil and which has not yet been detected in Austria.
Speaking about the increased domestic freedoms, Kurz said the “safest course would be to remain in lockdown,” but stressed the need to get children back to school and keep unemployment levels down.
Austria’s seven-day incidence rate of Covid-19 infections is 105.4 per 100,000 residents, which is lower than in December, but still below the country’s target of 50.
A total of 410,985 infections and 7,653 deaths due to the virus have been registered in Austria since the start of the pandemic.
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