Austria: Only with 3G to work

Status: 01.11.2021 01:06 p.m.

In order to increase the willingness to vaccinate, Austria is also relying on increased pressure. As of today, 3G is mandatory nationwide in the workplace – violations can result in fines. A step-by-step plan also provides for lockdown measures for unvaccinated people.

By Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD-Studio Vienna

Austria’s Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg warns urgently that one is “on the verge of stumbling into a pandemic of the unvaccinated”. Because the quota of fully vaccinated people has stagnated since July. At the moment it is almost 63 percent, while the number of infected people is increasing threateningly and the number of intensive care beds occupied by corona patients is also increasing. That is why the government no longer wants to stop at appeals.

Wolfgang Vichtl
ARD studio Vienna

As of today, 3G is mandatory in the workplace throughout Austria. That means: employees must be vaccinated, recovered or tested. After a transition period, only PCR tests will be accepted; rapid tests will then no longer be sufficient. Those who cannot prove this are not allowed to go to their workplace – anywhere where someone has contact with other people more than twice a day for at least a quarter of an hour. In return, you are no longer required to wear a mask at work.

Exceptions apply to foresters, truck drivers and everyone who works in the home office. There is no exception for top athletes. The Ministry of Health insures that it will be checked. Violations can result in a fine of up to 500 euros for employees and up to 3600 euros for employers. Those who “persistently” refuse also provide a reason for termination, the Chamber of Labor also confirms.

Intensive care beds in view

In addition, an extended step-by-step plan applies in Austria, which is based on the occupancy of the intensive care beds. As soon as more than 300 intensive care beds are occupied by corona patients, a 2G rule applies – with a lead time – in some areas of the catering trade and at certain events. If the number rises to more than 500, unvaccinated persons are prohibited from entering pubs, cafes and restaurants, but also from hotels, as well as attending many public events.

And if more than 600 intensive care beds are occupied, non-vaccinated people are only allowed to leave their homes in a few cases, for example to go shopping. People who cannot be vaccinated – like children under the age of 12 – are exempt from this. According to government information, 292 intensive care beds are currently occupied by corona patients.

Orientation towards the experiences of the neighbors

In the debate about 3G in the workplace, Austria’s Minister of Health, Wolfgang Mückstein from the Greens, refers to the good example of neighboring countries: In Italy and Slovenia this has led to citizens “increasingly taking the first trick”. The right-wing populist FPÖ who refused to vaccinate are outraged. The liberal Neos criticize that the government has held on for too long that corona tests are available free of charge. According to the government’s will, that shouldn’t change for the time being.

Does the new regulation hold before the labor judge? Legal experts see practical problems with the control, because employers are not allowed to save test results. But basically that’s okay, says Karl Stöger, constitutional lawyer and medical law expert at the University of Vienna: “The workplace is a place where many people meet, and it is not only sensible to see that the risk is minimized there legally required to a certain extent. “

There will be a transition period until mid-November. Until then, an FFP2 mask can replace the 3G certificate. And: The regulation should expire when the corona situation eases.

Reactions in the population

A – not representative – survey on the street in Vienna shows clear agreement among employees; In some companies where employees come together with many people, the rule has long been introduced.

And the first voices from the business world also signal clear approval – employers want their businesses to continue operating. Bernhard Ölz, managing director of the large bakery Ölz Meisterbäcker in Dornbirn, is in favor of the regulation “absolutely” and is convinced that the regulation “definitely brings more protection” – especially for the work colleagues in the company.

This would achieve the political goal of the “3G regulation”: increasing the pressure on unvaccinated people. Whether it works will be evident from the number of people vaccinated.

Austria: 3G compulsory at work

Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD Vienna, 1.11.2021 · 09:30

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