Politics

“Entry tests” are coming: new test strategy is in place

In addition to tests for events and hotels, weekly tests are to come for certain professional groups such as teachers, but also for students.

The coalition has basically agreed with the SPÖ on a new corona test strategy. This means that after the lockdown it will be possible to take part in events and take a vacation with a negative smear. The social partners and the Länder also agree with this approach. Carinthia’s governor Peter Kaiser had previously spoken of “entry tests”.

In addition, according to APA information, there are weekly tests for certain professional groups such as teachers, but also for students.

The original plan of the government had provided that one could free oneself from a lockdown and thus be able to use the trade, but also the catering trade, without restriction. This was rejected by the opposition for various reasons and thus brought down, as a blockade in the Federal Council would have resulted in a delay of around two months.

Test before events and for hotels

Now the coalition has at least succeeded in reaching an agreement with the Social Democrats on key points, which, however, leave gastronomy and retail aside. The exact text of the law is of course only being worked out and should be available on Tuesday when the health committee deals with the matter. The decision in the National Council should take place on Thursday. With the SPÖ, the Federal Council would no longer represent a hurdle.

Specifically, according to the APA, it is planned that for events with 20 or more participants and in hotels, a test that is not older than 48 hours must be presented upon entry. The operators should check. If they want to offer a test on site, the material will be made available to them free of charge. Excluded from the obligation are people who have overcome a corona infection in the past three months.

According to Ö1 however, it is not yet clear how old the submitted test must be. The government wants to orient itself accordingly to medical experts. Virologist Elisabeth Puchhammer-Stöckl recommends Ö1 a test that is not older than 24 hours.

Weekly test obligation for certain professional groups

For certain professional groups there is an obligation to be tested weekly. This applies to service providers close to the body – such as hairdressers or masseurs – but also teachers, kindergarten staff, conductors, fitness trainers, dance teachers, waiters or tourism staff with customer contact. The test can be carried out during working hours; the social partners should agree on protection against dismissal in the event of positive test results. If you don’t want to be tested, you have to put on a higher-quality FFP2 mask.

The federal states will offer a regular test infrastructure to carry out the tests. Vienna already has one, other countries are planning it or are already implementing it. The tests can also be carried out directly in companies, pharmacies or laboratories. As a result, they want to rely more and more on self-tests as soon as they are approved and sufficiently reliable – an initiative that was set up some time ago by SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner. The procurement of such tests is to be accelerated.

“Simple self-tests” for students

What is new is that pupils are to be tested once a week through such “simple self-tests” in schools. The details are to be announced by Education Minister Heinz Faßmann (ÖVP) on Saturday. It remains unclear, however, whether the school will resume face-to-face classes at the beginning of next week as planned. This depends on the development of the infection, according to the Chancellery.

Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) said in a written statement that the aim was to keep the infection process under control as much as possible with as many tests as possible in the phase after the lockdown. Of course, it is not yet clear when the lockdown will end. According to the current plans, it should continue for another two weeks.

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