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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Find out what's going on in Austria on Friday with The Local's short roundup of today's important news.

Vienna's State Opera House (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Vienna's State Opera House (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Italy lifts compulsory testing for cross-border commuters

People who live within 60 kilometers from the Italian border no longer have to undergo a coronavirus test to enter the country. The change affects people living in Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia and France who want to travel to Italy for professional reasons or for a day trip.

The new regulation also applies to Italians who live up to 60 kilometers from the border and want to travel to Austria, who do not have to take a test when they return to their home country. 

READ MORE: Explained: The new rules for entering Austria

Germany to ‘remove most states in Austria from red list’

Germany could remove Austria from the red list today, according to Die Presse newspaper, with the exception of the states of Tyrol and Vorarlberg. The warning against unnecessary tourist trips to Austria should also be dropped.

The information has not been confirmed by the German Foreign Ministry. All of Austria with the exception of the communities Jungholz and Mittelberg / Kleinwalsertal have been on the list of risk areas of the German Robert Koch Institute since November 1st, 2020. 

READ MORE: Germany bans travel from UK over covid Indian variant

Seven-day incidence at 32.9

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 32.9. With the exception of Vorarlberg (82.1) and Tyrol (51.5), all federal states are below 50 – with Salzburg (19.3) and Burgenland (16) having the lowest values.

President Alexander Van der Bellen visits German President, will visit pope

Austrian President Van der Bellen visited his German counterpart Steinmeier on Thursday, on his first foreign trip since the pandemic, emphasising the German-Austrian friendship despite initial “communication problems” between the two countries over their respective handling of the pandemic, ORF reports.

Van der Bellen will travel to Rome on Sunday and meet Pope Francis and then Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the Vatican on Monday morning

Wolfgang Brandstetter resigns from Constitutional Court

Wolfgang Brandstetter has announced his resignation from the Constitutional Court VfGH following the publication of chat messages between Brandstetter and Christian Pilnacek, a senior civil servant at the Justice Ministry the Kronen Zeitung reports.

The chats messages have caused controversy because they contain alleged criticisms against public prosecutors, fellow judges, and instances of racism.

Pilnacek has been suspended pending an investigation, the newspaper notes.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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