Austria will reintroduce an indoor masks mandate, the well being minister, Johannes Rauch, introduced on Friday, bucking a pattern amongst European international locations to elevate coronavirus precautions regardless of rising instances.
“It was merely essential to take countermeasures now,” Mr. Rauch stated at a information convention on Friday, simply weeks after Austria lifted its masks mandates in most indoor areas.
Earlier this month, Austrian officers had introduced that the nation’s normal vaccine mandate can be briefly suspended. It not too long ago took official impact, however enforcement had not begun. About 74 p.c of Austrians are totally vaccinated, in response to the Our World in Information.
However Mr. Rauch stated that consultants have now corrected forecasts for the trajectory of the virus and that officers had been involved about staffing and the supply of beds in hospitals and retirement and nursing properties.
Beginning on Wednesday, FFP2 masks (Europe’s equal to American N95s) can be required in indoor areas once more, and the federal government would quickly revise the isolation guidelines for contaminated folks, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Well being, Care and Client Safety stated in a assertion on Friday.
A extremely transmissible Omicron subvariant, BA.2, is contributing to the brand new surge round Europe this month. Though deaths have continued to fall within the area, the variety of Covid sufferers in hospitals has risen in some European international locations akin to the UK, Eire, and Austria, in accordance to Our World in Information.
Over the previous two weeks, new instances in Austria have elevated by 54 p.c, in response to the Heart for Techniques Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins College.
However European international locations have nonetheless been pushing to reopen. Final month, Denmark dropped all its restrictions, together with a masks mandate in indoor areas and on public transportation. The British authorities has ended all remaining authorized coronavirus curbs in England, together with the authorized requirement for contaminated folks to isolate. On Thursday, Italy introduced it might progressively elevate its vaccination and well being cross necessities.
However as international locations greeted the top of many precautions, Austria’s announcement was a regarding sign that momentum in that course could have been untimely. Mr. Rauch stated that earlier coverage modifications had been based mostly on predictions that instances can be dropping by now.
“That has not come true. It has modified, and adjusted considerably,” he stated.
Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.