Gradual relaxation in february

The government wants to set several opening steps in the course of February. This was announced by Chancellor Karl Nehammer (oVP) on Saturday during a press conference together with Health Minister Wolfgang Muckstein (Greens) and the GECKO Commission. On 5. February, the closing time will be extended from 22.00 to 24.00 o’clock postponed. On 12. February the 2-G-obligation falls in the trade, one week later the 3-G-rule is enough in catering and tourism again.

However, for the 3-G detection in the catering industry, the PCR tests would only have a validity of 48 hours, held Muckstein. Such a regulation already existed in Vienna, in the rest of Austria 72 hours were.

Loosened also a little in the event area. Instead of 25 people can now again 50 without assigned seats together and that per 5. February. There are also to be new rules in the school sector, but they will not be announced until next week. The reason given for the relaxation was that despite the high number of cases caused by Omikron, the situation at the hospitals was stable.

But there is no change in the expiry of hundreds of thousands of vaccination certificates with February. After sharp criticism, there had been speculation that there might be a grace period for those without booster vaccination whose second shot was more than 180 days ago. To this Muckstein gave a refusal.

Relaxations in February

The federal government and the CoV crisis coordination (GECKO) announce opening steps for February. From 5. February, the curfew in the catering industry will be extended to 24.00 extended. Also, the maximum number of people at events will be from 5. February raised to 50 persons. The 2-G regulation in trade ends with 12. February, the FFP2 mask obligation in the trade remains. From 19. February, the 3-G rule applies in the catering and tourism sectors.

"Offer perspectives"

Nehammer said that the numbers in hospitals were at a predictable level – that’s why prospects could now be offered. That only because of the pressure of the economy resp. of the western states was relaxed, Nehammer denied with a "clear no".

Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer (oVP)

Chancellor Karl Nehammer (oVP) announces opening steps in February. From 5. February, the closing time in the catering trade is extended to 24.00 hours extended. Also the maximum number of people at events will be from 5. February raised to 50. The 2-G regulation in the trade ends with 12. February, the FFP2 mask obligation in the trade remains.

Muckstein held: "There is no threat of overloading intensive care units with Omikron."Therefore, opening steps can be set, but remain on the safe side: "We do it cautiously and above all safely."

Health Minister Wolfgang Muckstein (Greens)

Health Minister Wolfgang Muckstein (Greens) explains that the situation in the hospitals despite high case numbers allows an opening.

Minister of Tourism Elisabeth Kostinger (oVP) expressed her relief. In your opinion, in the foreseeable future, you will be able to give a perspective to night catering and large events. That it comes now already to an increase in the number of persons for "events" without assigned places, it sees above all as favorable for family celebrations and weddings.

Tourism Minister Elisabeth Kostinger (oVP)

Tourism Minister Elisabeth Kostinger (oVP) hopes for further opening steps soon

The relaxation steps also facilitate cultural events, the extended closing time also applies to them. For theaters, opera houses and concert halls, you no longer need a current PCR test, 2-G as well as FFP2 masks are mandatory here. From 19. February applies to all events 3-G. For Arts and Greens State Secretary for Culture Andrea Mayer, this is an "important step toward normality for cultural life".

Omicron wave expected to peak in early February

GECKO chairwoman Katharina Reich said the peak of the Omikron wave is expected in the first week of February. In individual states, the peak could also be off by a week. Internationally and also in Austria, it can be observed that the decoupling of high case numbers and low hospitalization figures is being further confirmed. In other words, despite the large number of infections, hospital occupancy rates have hardly risen at all so far.

A box of PCR tests

Omikron: what strategy is appropriate?

With the measures taken so far, Austria has been able to counter the "omicron wall" well, says Reich. The GECKO will already be thinking about "how to start next fall and winter". Major General Rudolf Striedinger of GECKO also expressed his satisfaction with the measures taken so far. Not only have they managed to keep hospital numbers in check, but they have also managed to protect critical infrastructure, which is at risk from many infections and quarantines.

oVP heads of provinces satisfied

Satisfied reactions came from the western states: Vorarlberg’s governor Markus Wallner (oVP) welcomed the opening steps. "It’s going in the right direction," he said as current chair of state governors’ conference. For Wallner, it was high time to react to the milder disease course of the omicron variant in coordination with the experts.

Now it is important to continue to observe the development and, if possible, to accelerate the easing steps, said Wallner. For him it was also important that for the body-related services parallel to the trade (12. February) the 2-G rule falls. "So far, these two areas have always been treated the same," Wallner said. Tyrolean governor Gunther Platter saw his demand fulfilled. He also appreciates, Platter said in a press statement, that the federal government is proceeding with a sense of proportion – read more in tirol.ORF.at.

Salzburg’s governor Wilfried Haslauer (oVP) also welcomed the presented relaxations "very much". However, in retail, he would have liked to see the return to the 3-G rule "a little earlier". Upper Austria’s governor Thomas Stelzer (oVP) also sees his opinion confirmed: The step-by-step plan of the federal government and the experts is "reasonable". Lower Austria’s governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner (oVP) also took a positive view of the relaxations, saying that the announced opening steps would bring back "more perspectives and joie de vivre for many citizens" – read more in noe.ORF.at.

Unger (ORF) on the relaxations

ORF reporter Peter Unger reports on the background of the opening steps announced by the federal government and the CoV crisis coordination (GECKO) in February.

Ludwig: Wrong time

The mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig (SPo), on the other hand, spoke of the wrong time to announce the easing steps. On Twitter, he advocated a prudent and cautious course, announcing what steps will be taken in Vienna after talking to experts.

We are in the middle of the #Omikron wave right now with record numbers of infections every day and we haven’t reached the peak of this wave yet. It is therefore the wrong time to announce relaxation steps! /1

— Michael Ludwig (@BgmLudwig) 29. January 2022

Health councillor Peter Hacker (SPo) said on the fringes of a vaccination action in the Federal Chancellery, it is "a bit very courageous" to commit now already with dates in the middle of February – more about it in wien.ORF.at.

For the governor of Burgenland, Hans Peter Doskozil (SPo), it is "not understandable why at the height of the omicron wave, the repeal of the 2-G regulation is announced, but then actually falls only in weeks". For the population the steps of the Federal Government are no longer comprehensible. The SPo provincial governors had not been informed, Doskozil said. He would have liked to see a meeting next week with experts, the federal government and the states to determine how to proceed once the wave has reached its peak.

SPo health spokesman Philip Kucher saw evidence that Nehammer – despite his denial – was only acting at the behest of the black state governors. Kucher demanded that criteria for openings be made transparent.

Kickl sees "staircase joke"

FPo chairman Herbert Kickl spoke of a "staircase joke" and demanded an immediate withdrawal of all measures. In his opinion, the government is giving away two more weeks to give the economy in this country some breathing space with the presented step-by-step plan. "2-G does not bring any health policy successes, but would only lead to empty coffers at the retail businesses, the gastronomy and hotel industry, as well as at the body-related services. Now to wait another two weeks – and in the case of gastronomy and the hotel industry three weeks – is another declaration of bankruptcy by this federal government," criticized Kickl in a statement.

Also for NEOS too late

The NEOS welcome the relaxation, but also the Pinken would have liked to see an immediate abolition. Both with 2-G in the trade and with the curfew must be immediately conclusion. It is completely incomprehensible to pandemic spokesman Gerald Loacker and tourism spokeswoman Julia Seidl how 3-G in gastronomy and tourism are supposed to fit together with compulsory vaccination. And that the general public should continue to pay for the tests of the unvaccinated despite compulsory vaccination, they also find inexplicable.

The SPo took exception to the fact that the six-month period between the second and third stings was not extended as had been speculated, even though this would have meant an increase in the number of applicants for around 300.000 people with February the certificates expire and the "green passport" loses its validity. The delegate Julia gentleman accused the government with reference to an inquiry answer of Nehammer, three months overslept and only with 15. November with the application of the third sting to have begun. "This government has botched the entire vaccination campaign. It borders on dilettantism," criticized Mr.

Interest groups halay satisfied

Interest groups from the business community were pleased with the opening steps – even if they complain about the late timing and call for further relaxation. For the trade it goes too slowly, commented Rainer Trefelik, chairman of the appropriate federal section in the chamber of economics the happening. In view of the vaccination obligation, the relaxations are urgently needed, said Economic Chamber President Harald Mahrer and Secretary General Karlheinz Kopf (both oVP). When it comes to the abolition of 2-G controls in trade, the later entry into force "hurts" for them. They insist on the fall of further control obligations. One must "lift restrictions step by step and continue the fact-based way out of the pandemic," also said Wirtschaftsbund Secretary-General Kurt Egger (oVP).

From the trade federation it was said, "the forces of the reason prevailed". Handelsverband managing director Rainer welcomed the end of "one of the most unspeakable chapters in recent Austrian retail history – the 2-G regulation in non-food retail". The industry will continue to meticulously comply with all hygiene and safety regulations as well as the FFP2 mask requirement, but will "no longer have to play police".

Walter Veit from the hotelier association oHV welcomed the "hopefully historic and final turn in the domestic Covid strategy". He called for a swift legal framework. He appealed to his industry as well as to guests to "handle the regained freedoms responsibly.".

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