The rules, which vary by region within the country, largely allow for the reopening of theaters, museums, and other cultural and entertainment venues on Sunday. Shops will follow on Monday.
Some regions are reopening restaurants and hotels on Sunday, while others will wait until later in the month. In all cases, there will be an 11 p.m. curfew for restaurants, and masks will still be required on public transportation and inside stores and public spaces.
Chancellor Karl Nehammer last week called the move an “opening with a seat belt,” giving each of Austria’s nine regions the ability to loosen or tighten restrictions based on the local situation.
Unvaccinated people will still be subject to the lockdown restrictions and should remain at home for all but a handful of specific reasons, like buying groceries, going to the doctor, or exercising.
Austrian officials have stressed that high rates of vaccination are necessary to control the virus—67.7 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, a relatively low rate for Western Europe. The government has introduced measures to put increasing pressure on unvaccinated people to get the vaccine.
Among those measures are a nationwide vaccine mandate, which will go into effect in February for all residents aged 14 and over. Those who don’t comply will face fines of up to 3,600 euros (around $4,000).
Tens of thousands of people have protested across the country in recent weeks, both against the lockdown restrictions and the coming vaccine mandate. Police said a Saturday demonstration in the capital city, Vienna, drew 44,000 people.
By Emily Schultheis