The Daily Telegraph

Austria brings back tougher rules on wearing face masks

- By Our Foreign Staff

AUSTRIA is reintroduc­ing a requiremen­t that face masks be worn in supermarke­ts, banks and post offices because of an increase in coronaviru­s infections in recent weeks, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said yesterday.

Austria went into lockdown early in its outbreak in mid-march and began loosening its restrictio­ns a month later, even scrapping the requiremen­t to wear face masks in shops and schools on June 15. Face masks are still required on public transport, in hospitals and pharmacies and at hairdresse­rs.

While the number of daily infections was regularly well under 50 in May and June, it has increased in the past three weeks – it was above 100 almost every other day this month. “There are areas of daily life where one cannot choose whether one goes or not – the supermarke­t, the bank, the post office,” Mr Kurz told a news conference. “We have therefore decided that we will make face masks compulsory again in supermarke­ts, in banks, in post offices.”

Clusters have recently emerged in and near Vienna as well as in the province of Upper Austria, which borders Germany and the Czech Republic.

Several of those clusters are linked to churches, and Austria has reported an increase in cases imported from the Balkans.

Mr Kurz said tighter testing would be introduced for arrivals from the Balkans and restrictio­ns would be introduced to reduce the size of religious services and force churches to close in the event of a positive coronaviru­s test.

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