As Cases Rise in Austria More Areas Could Require FFP2 Masks

The masks have been compulsory in ski resorts since the lifts began turning on December 24th. There has been a rise in cases across the country as some measures have been eased.

The Austrian Health Minister, Rudolf Anschober, has said rules for wearing the mask would be up to state and municipal authorities, but that it was necessary as the country was entering a “risk phase all the way until Easter”.

Cases are on the rise with 134 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

The Complexity Science Research Hub in Vienna has said cases are “increasing rapidly”.

It warned of a third wave and the re-introduction of stricter measures.

Austria eased some restrictions on February 8th and this has contributed to the rise.

Austria eases some lockdown restrictions and extends others

Other contributing factors are increased testing, plus the spread of variants of the virus.

The Tirol has also seen the spread of the South African variant and has been placed in isolation from the rest of Austria.

Tirol placed in isolation with Austria and Germany closes its border

Resorts closing in the Tirol as negative covid-19 test required

In Burgenland the British variant represents 75% of newly detected infections.

In Vienna and Lower Austria it is 50%.

The pandemic is “not under control with the variants” said Peter Klimek from the Complexity Science Research Hub.

Now there has been a change in the law so municipalities can now require people to wear FFP2 masks in public.

They offer considerably higher levels of protection and some question why more people do not use them – in Austria and elsewhere.

As well as on ski lifts in Austria they have been required at outdoor markets, retail shops, supermarkets and public transport, including on station platforms.

FFP2 masks are more effective at reducing the spread of the virus than cotton masks or even the common disposable medical masks that are often used.

“Any mouth and nose protection is good, but the FFP2 mask is massively better,” said the health minister.

FFP2 mask on the ski slopes of Austria

FFP2 mask on the ski slopes of Austria

FFP2 masks offer better protection against the coronavirus and other pathogens, with up to 94% of aerosols filtered out.

They are made of several layers of fabric and paper, plus have built-in filters.

The masks do not have to be changed daily and can be used several times.

They must not be washed so as not to destroy the filter function.

The Czech government has ordered the wearing of FFP2 respirator masks from Thursday in shops and on public transport.

The government will distribute millions of the masks via food banks to people who cannot afford them.