January 8, 2021
News from Austria
- The Austrian government promised to provide all residents older than 65 years with 10 free FFP2 masks for better protections against the coronavirus.
- According to reports from several households, the batches of masks have started to arrive in recent days all across the country.
- All masks ought to arrive in households by post by the mid of January at the latest, according to the government.
- FFP2 masks protect the wearer better than normal surgical masks due to better filters, but they are also significantly more expensive.
- It is possible that some venues can only be visited with FFP2 masks after the third lockdown will be lifted, according to government plans.
- Beginning at midnight, Austria will again enforce border controls to Czechia and Slovakia.
- The quarantine rules have so far been enforced by spot checks, starting tonight small border crossings will again be closed and controls will be directly conducted at the border.
- Commuters and those regularly visiting close family members across borders are exempted from the rules, all others have to bring a quarantine declaration and quarantine for 10 days (5 days if presenting a negative coronavirus test).
- Find detailed information within our guide on Traveling to Austria in Times of Corona.
- Furthermore, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) announced that ban on flights coming from the UK or South Africa – due to the new mutant coronavirus strains spreading there – will be prolonged until after January 10.
- The European Union has ordered 300 million more doses of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine.
- This comes on top of the 300 million it already ordered and brings the total to 600 million doses.
- Of those, 75 million doses should already be delivered in the second quarter of 2021.
- Austria has the right to 2% of these doses, bringing the total allotment to 12 million doses which would be enough to vaccinate 6 million people in the country.
- In separate studies, the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine has also shown to be effective against the new fast-spreading mutations of the coronavirus first discovered in the UK and South Africa.
- The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has today also allowed doctors and medical staff to use every vial of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine for 6 vaccination doses instead of 5.
- The vials are always a bit overfilled and using them to the full extent has already been approved in the US, UK and Israel.
- This measure alone increased the availability of vaccine doses in the EU by 20%.
- Austrian ministries reported 2,063 new infections in the last 24 hours.
- The 7-day-incidence fell again slightly, to now 161 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
|Active cases||Hospitalized||In intensive care (ICU)||Deaths|
|Daily Tests||Recovered||Tested Positive|
Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, January 8, 2021.
- After the plan of generally “testing oneself free” (Freitesten) for activities in the week of January 18-24 was rejected by the opposition, a new plan is now taking shape.
- Instead of a general Freitesten, the government now plans to introduce “entrance test requirements” (Eintrittstest) for certain activities.
- For example, a negative coronavirus test in the last 48 hours could become mandatory for frequenting cultural events, staying at hotels or taking part in a concert.
- Negative tests could also become a prerequisite for going to restaurants, bars or shops.
- The exact details of this regulation and how it should be enacted are still up to debate, though.
- The government needs the approval of at least one opposition MP in the upper chamber of parliament, the Bundesrat, to pass these measures before the end of the lockdown on January 24.
- The Austrian Bundesrat cannot block most laws, but it can make use of a delaying veto which the lower chamber, the Nationalrat, can only override 8 weeks later – in this case, well after the discussed measures are planned to take effect.
- The new law is likely to be passed by Parliament next Thursday.
News from Elsewhere
- The poorest countries of the world will received their first vaccine doses between mid-January and February, thanks to the COVAX initiative.
- The WHO initiative, particularly championed by the EU and countries like Germany, aims to provide vaccines for 20% of the population in the world’s 92 poorest countries.
- The new UK coronavirus strain B.1.1.7 was now also found in Australia.
- As immediate reaction, the 3-million people city of Brisbane went into a three-day lockdown.
- Furthermore, the Australian government aims to reduce international flight connections by up to 50% and introduced even stricter measures for everyone entering the country.
Go to the next page for news from January 7.