Austria mulls banning unvaccinated from cafes, restaurants and gyms if ICU situation worsens

The Austrian government has warned that unvaccinated people ‘could be banned’ from restaurants and cafes if intensive care situation worsens.

Austria mulls banning unvaccinated from cafes, restaurants and gyms if ICU situation worsens

Further restrictions are likely in Austria according to Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein, if intensive care beds go beyond 25 percent capacity (500 beds), he has told the Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

Unvaccinated people may be banned from restaurants and cafes, with only those who have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 allowed in.

Under current rules, people who have not been vaccinated and have not had the virus recently and recovered can still get a negative test in order to visit a restaurant, bar or gym. 

The government has indicated it will use hospitalisations – and particularly ICU beds – as the relevant metric in further tightenings. 

From September 15th, Austria will tighten a range of measures, with stricter rules for unvaccinated people. 

EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s tighter Covid measures ‘for the unvaccinated’?

Broadcaster ORF reports that Vienna City Councilor for Health Peter Hacker (SPÖ) also assumes that stricter measures will soon be necessary and says experts fear the step-by-step approach laid out by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday may mean measures come too late to stop the fourth wave in Austria.

The head of the Complexity Science Hub Vienna (CSH), Stefan Thurner, has told the APA press agency that the situation was comparable to a car approaching a wall and braking too late, the Krone newspaper reports.

What further measures have already been set in stone? 

If more than 15 percent of capacity is reached for seven successive days, unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed into nightclubs and larger events, i.e. events with more than 500 people without assigned seats. 

Only those who are vaccinated or who have recently recovered from the virus will be allowed to enter. 

This means that people cannot enter with proof of a negative test. 

EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s Covid-19 green card and how do I get it?

Also, so-called self tests will no longer be accepted as proof of a negative test (in areas where negative tests are still accepted). 

If more than 20 percent of ICU capacity is reached for seven successive days, antigen tests will no longer be valid for bars, restaurants, gyms, hairdressers and other areas where the 3G rule applies, with only those who have been vaccinated, recently recovered or who have taken a negative PCR test allowed to enter.  


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Strike warning: Why are doctors planning a protest in Vienna?

Vienna hospital doctors are taking the streets in protest - in a move that many called a 'dress rehearsal' for a possible strike. Why are doctors protesting?

Strike warning: Why are doctors planning a protest in Vienna?

Hospital doctors in Vienna and representatives of other healthcare professions, such as nurses, have planned a protest march in the city centre this Monday, December 4th. 

With the motto “Without us, Vienna dies” (Ohne uns stirbt Wien), the health professionals want to call attention to their “deteriorating working conditions”, according to a press release by the doctor’s chamber Ärztekammer für Wien. The protest is seen as “dress rehearsal” for a possible strike in spring, Austrian media has reported.

“The staffing and structural understaffing of Vienna’s public hospitals is no longer sustainable. While entire departments are disappearing and staff are leaving in frustration, city politicians have consistently ignored our proposals from the 10-point plan to save Vienna’s hospitals for months.”, they wrote.

READ ALSO: Why Austria wants to speed up integration of foreigners into the workforce

The proposals include measures to make health professions more attractive, stop workers from leaving the sector altogether, improve working conditions in the Viennese hospitals, and modernise structures so doctors and nurses can have more time for patients.

The medical association also demands a 30 percent pay rise, saying that the recently presented agreements just below the ten percent mark only compensate for inflation. 

They added: “It is not enough to create new posts that are then vacant in addition to the existing ones. What we need are people who are happy to work with us in the hospitals of the City of Vienna. We need a wave of de-bureaucratization, more autonomy and department level to find suitable solutions for and with our colleagues.”

The protest rally will start in the early afternoon at Neuer Markt. It will then continue through the city centre and past the town hall. A final rally is planned at Stock-Im-Eisen-Platz at around 4.00 pm.

READ ALSO: What kind of insurance do I need to have in Austria?

Population support

The medical association said there is support among the population for the protests, citing a “Health Barometer 2023” research presented by pollster Peter Hajek.

In the survey involving 1,000 residents of Vienna, participants criticised the healthcare system and healthcare policies. A significant majority, 63 percent, felt that healthcare hadn’t improved post-pandemic. Regarding Vienna’s hospitals, 37 percent rated their condition as “Not sufficient” or “Sufficient,” with a mere 5 percent indicating a “Very good” status.

Critiques highlighted concerns about prolonged surgery waiting times and overcrowded hospital outpatient departments.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can doctors charge a cancellation fee in Austria?

The survey revealed that an overwhelming majority believed that increased salaries for hospital staff would be justified. Additionally, there is significant support for potential strike actions, with 91 percent expressing understanding for such measures, as confirmed by Hajek.