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Holidays in Vienna will not be so lonely with the new set of Christmas Covid-exceptions

Austria is loosening Covid measures for Christmas

Austria is loosening Covid measures for Christmas

The new amendment to current regulations will allow the unvaccinated to spend Christmas and New Year with family and friends

This morning, health authorities in Austria issued an amendment to the current Covid restrictions to make room for as much festive spirit as the situation allows. The new set of rules will come into effect on 22 December.

Most of the measures from the previous set of pandemic measures will remain unchanged: according to health authorities, the vaccinated and the recovered will be allowed to participate in ‘social coexistence’. They will also have the opportunity to go to restaurants, bars, hotels, stores, etc.

Initially, the current Austrian lockdown for the unvaccinated was supposed to last for 10 days, from 12 to 22 December. However, authorities have decided to extend that date by a further 10 days, until 1 January.

Exceptions for the winter holidays

Medical authorities have allowed some exceptions for the unvaccinated for the Christmas holidays – on the 24, 25, 26 and on 31 December.

On these dates, people who have not recovered or do not have a vaccine will be allowed to go to small social gatherings of up to 10 people. So citizens have the chance to celebrate Christmas with family or with friends. For larger groups, from 11 to 25 people, citizens will need to be vaccinated or recovered.

Additionally, the federally mandated curfew for bars and restaurants is lifted on 31 December and only state regulations will apply.

The Social Ministry of Austria recommends PCR testing before gatherings, as well as using masks and limiting personal contacts as much as possible during Christmas. They also urge the unvaccinated to get their jabs before the holidays, as the Omicron variant is still a threat.

Honouring the victims

This Sunday, 19 December, a group of citizens have decided to organise a vigil for all Austrians who have fallen victim to COVID-19. For this reason, they will light more than 13,000 candles in Vienna.

According to the ORF, the Austrian broadcasting network, the initiative was born out of a discussion on social media between Roman Scamoni from Innsbruck and Daniel Landau from Vienna. The two explained that this is not a pro-vaccination demonstration and torches and fliers will not be welcomed on Sunday.

Instead, it intends to bring all Austrians together and counteract the major divide in society. The organisers also say that the vigil should adhere to green pass regulations, meaning that vaccinated, recovered and people with negative PCR tests should come, wearing masks and keeping their distance, to avoid spreading the disease.

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