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Austria announces "gentle relaxation" rules to replace coronavirus lockdown
From:Xinhua  |  2021-02-02 03:58

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VIENNA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Austrian government on Monday announced measures of "gentle relaxation" -- going into effect from Feb. 8 -- in lieu of the country's third lockdown that has been in place since Dec. 26, 2020 to contain the coronavirus.

Schools, stores, and cultural venues such as museums and zoos will be allowed to reopen under strict precautionary measures, said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at a press conference.

Elementary school students will be taught in schools again, while secondary school students will be taught in shifts and only those who can take tests regularly will be allowed to attend face-to-face lessons, said Kurz.

Trade premises can also reopen, with only one customer allowed in per 20 square meters and FFP2 mask mandatory. People can go to the hairdresser, beautician or masseur again if they have a negative COVID-19 test not older than 48 hours.

"It is only possible to take careful opening steps," Kurz said. "From an epidemiological point of view, the safest way would be to maintain the lockdown."

The government wanted to reduce new infections to a maximum of 700 per day, but the number is still in the four-digit range of over 1,100, he said.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 236 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 63 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 26. Enditem