- Law of the “purest”
The government agreed on a test strategy with the SPÖ last week: To visit sports and cultural events as well as hotel bookings, you should have a corona test that is no older than 48 hours. Certain employees – for example in retail, in body-hugging services, in schools and in restaurants – should be tested once a week. Negotiations were still taking place on Monday as to whether customers in the catering industry should also be tested. The amendment to the law comes to the Health Committee today, Tuesday, and everything is to be decided in the National Council on Thursday.
The law is the basis, details are regulated in an ordinance of the Ministry of Health – such as what type of tests will be used, which confirmation is needed and who is checking. That should be clarified this week.
The exit restrictions may only apply for ten days, which is why the main committee is due for an extension on Wednesday. Actually just a formality – it has been clear for a long time that the lockdown will last until the 24th. However, a debate about whether individual regions of Austria should open earlier could be exciting – Lower Austria recently called for that. In the east of Austria, the number of infections is much lower than in the west.
The schools are not covered by the lockdown regulation and could theoretically – as planned – reopen on January 18th. But that is still in the balance. According to reports, consideration is being given to not restarting regular classes until after the semester break. Education Minister Heinz Faßmann (clear advocate of a quick return) has announced a decision for the middle of the week. It is also unclear whether the catering trade, like the retail sector, will be able to open again from January 25th.
The broad vaccination campaign in the federal states starts today (see p. 13). The ranking – i.e. that old people’s and nursing homes come first – is only based on a recommendation of the National Vaccination Board. The government is considering legally safeguarding this procedure with a resolution by the Council of Ministers.