Authoritarian Austria, which was the ugly duckling in Europe just a few weeks ago when it single-handedly pushed through compulsory vaccination, is now meekly copying, in miniature, what the Scandinavian vanguards Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and neighboring Switzerland are doing.
Austria will broadly lift its Covid restrictions from March 5. Then, a “large part of the restrictions that people complain about so much will be removed,” Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer announced after consultations with representatives of the provinces.
Accordingly, starting March 5, people will again be able to visit hotels, restaurants, and bars without proof of vaccination or testing. The nightly curfew will also be lifted.
Unvaccinated people will be allowed to visit restaurants and hotels as early as Saturday when the 2G rule will end as planned, which only allows vaccinated and recovered people. Until March 5, however, unvaccinated guests must still show a valid Covid test.
The 3G rule remains in place only in nursing homes and hospitals for employees and visitors. A mask must still be worn in public transportation, supermarkets, pharmacies, post offices, banks, and hospitals.
Nehammer continued to urge his fellow citizens to be cautious. “We have not yet overcome the pandemic; the coronavirus is still part of our lives,” he said.
Only in Vienna will stricter rules remain in place for the time being. For example, the 2G rule will continue to apply in restaurants after February 19. According to the 2G or even 2G plus principle, the night gastronomy will also only open with access controls, said Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ).
When shopping, masks will be mandatory in the Austrian capital after March 5, even away from stores selling essential goods.