Austria to ease Covid restrictions in Feb

Austria has announced plans to relax Covid-19 restrictions in February despite high infection numbers in recent days.

Starting from February 5, restaurants and shops across the country will be allowed to open until midnight with the lifting of the current 10 p.m. curfew, Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters here on Saturday.

From February 12, there will no longer be a testing or vaccine requirement in the retail sector; and starting February 19, people with a negative coronavirus test result but no proof of vaccination or recovery will again be able to visit restaurants and tourist attractions, reports Xinhua news agency.

The move came amid a recent surge in infections in Austria driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

On Saturday, the country reported nearly 35,000 new Covid-19 cases, according to the Austrian Press Agency.

However, pressure on hospitals has eased as Omicron has led to less severe outcomes, and the current wave is expected to peak around February 7-9, Katharina Reich, director general for public health, told reporters.

Nehammer also said that the situation of the hospitals is stable and at a predictable level.

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