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COVID-19
Austria extends lockdown for unvaccinated until January 10th
Austria’s stay-at-home order for unvaccinated people has been extended until January 10th, although an exception for New Years eve has been included.
Published: 30 December 2021 17:24 CET
A cyclist passes Hofburg palace at Michaeler square in Vienna, Austria on November 22, 2021. - Austria has entered a nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain spiraling coronavirus infections. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
The committee of the Austrian National Council, the body charged with making decisions regarding the country’s lockdown measures, has extended it until January 10th. 
The decision, which was widely expected, means those who are not vaccinated or who have not recently recovered from the virus will need to continue to comply with the stay-at-home order. 
As reported by Austrian newspaper Heute, “it is now becoming more and more apparent that unvaccinated people will be locked down until vaccination is compulsory”. 
Most mainstream Austrian political parties supported the extension, with only the Austrian Freedom Party and the Neos voting against it. 
The government justified the extension of the measures on the basis of concern surrounding the Omicron Covid variant. 
New Year’s Eve exception
The committee however passed an exception for New Year’s Eve. 
On both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, unvaccinated people are allowed to take part in gatherings with a limit of ten people (regardless of the others’ vaccination statuses). 
Covid-19: What are the rules for New Year’s Eve in Austria?
The stay-at-home order will again be put in place from midnight on New Year’s Day. 
Children under 12 are excluded from the restrictions and do not count towards the tallies. 
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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased
The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights
Published: 11 May 2022 16:17 CEST
Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.
#EASA and #ECDC have taken the first steps to relax #COVID19 measures for air travelers. While the wearing of face masks will no longer be mandatory it is important to be respectful of others. The full protocol is available here:​https://t.co/Oetq26Xd0g​pic.twitter.com/eBAvQxIEzp
— EASA (@EASA) May 11, 2022
The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.
The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.
It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.
“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 
“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  
ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 
“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 
“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 
“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”
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