Masks will be mandatory again from Friday in banks, supermarkets and post offices in Austria, the government announced Tuesday.
This tightening of COVID-19 measures is primarily about protecting vulnerable people or high-risk groups, according to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
“Everyone has to go there, you don’t have choices. We therefore decided to reintroduce the obligation to wear masks in supermarkets as well as in banks and post offices,”
said Kurz at a press conference held here on Tuesday afternoon.
The mask also has a symbolic effect, said the chancellor, noting that the more it disappears from everyday life, “the greater the carelessness becomes; the more carefree everything becomes again.”
“As long as there is no vaccination or medication, we have to be aware that the disease continues and that it is important to keep social distance and disinfect hands,” he added.
The reason for the “discretionary decisions,” as Kurz called the tightening, is that the self-imposed “magic threshold of a three-digit number of new infections every day” had been exceeded in the past few weeks, he said.
Up to now masks have been mandatory on public transport, in the health sector including pharmacies, and in services where the minimum distance of one meter cannot be maintained.
The chancellor also appealed to the Austrians to refrain from traveling to the Balkans, to which “a large part of the newly infected in Austria is directly related.”
Eighty-four more people have tested positive as of Tuesday afternoon, taking the total number of the novel coronavirus cases in the Alpine country to 19,805, while the number of active cases is 1,386, according to health authorities.