Austria and Switzerland are relaxing the corona restrictions – politics

The tabloids had already cheered. On March 5, Austria’s government will give people back what is due to them anyway – their freedom, the daily newspaper said today announced. The “Freedom Day” is fixed. “Freedom at last,” trumpeted the free newspaper OE24. But it wasn’t entirely true that “everything would fall off”.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) and Minister of Health Wolfgang Mückstein (Die Grünen) announced that on February 19, i.e. next Saturday, only 3 G will apply in the country, so that those who have been vaccinated and those who have been tested will be treated equally. The next step is to follow on March 5th: According to Nehammer, “a large part of the restrictions” should then fall. The curfew will be lifted, night gastronomy will be allowed to open. The green passport is losing its meaning. Masks in grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals and public transport should remain.

The obligation to vaccinate should remain with a view to the autumn

With the Omicron virus variant and the slowly falling number of cases, a “spring awakening” is foreseeable, and the health minister said that the measures would be adapted step by step. This also includes the question of whether the offer of free Covid tests, which Austria is used across the board should be maintained. The tests have already cost 2.6 billion euros. They are now considering only giving them away free of charge if the test is medically justified.

Only one rumor that had been spread in advance was not substantiated: the obligation to vaccinate should remain. With a view to autumn and the threat of new virus variants, vaccination is essential, and a booster vaccination will probably be necessary in the coming autumn. Vaccination is still a “central element” of the strategy, the federal government wants to stick to the vaccination requirement. Controls and administrative penalties are currently being prepared.

Mückstein countered critical questions from journalists as to whether it was not a bit premature to give up the 2G rule in view of the fact that the number of cases has hardly been falling so far, with reference to a stable utilization of the intensive care units. In view of the positive forecasts, insisting on the existing measures is “disproportionate”. The Social Democratic Mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, who had already had numerous opening steps taken with a time delay in the capital, gave his own press conference an hour after the federal government. He, too, was skeptical about the easing, referred to full hospitals and an unclear situation, spoke of “recklessness” and announced that 2G would be retained in the catering trade for the time being. Ludwig also advocated continuing to offer free tests with which one had good experiences.

Also in the Switzerland the government announced a “Freedom Day” on Wednesday: from Thursday onwards, unvaccinated people can go back to restaurants, cultural institutions, leisure facilities and shops without hindrance. There are no longer any restrictions on private meetings and the recommendation to work from home is lifted. Masks are only compulsory on buses and trains, as well as in health facilities.

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