Austria aims to reopen restaurants, hotels by mid-May

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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Friday that Austria is looking to reopen restaurants and hotels by the middle of next month, six months after they closed due to the coronavirus.

A third of the country's almost nine million people will have received at least one shot of vaccine by mid-May, allowing a "careful" reopening of gastronomy, tourism, culture and sports, Kurz said.

However, it will be up to each province to take the final decisions what to open based on local coronavirus indicators closer to the date, Kurz said, urging people to remain vigilant to stop the virus from spreading.

"We are on the final stretch in our fight against the pandemic," the conservative chancellor told reporters.

He said from May 19, restaurants and hotels may reopen under strict safety measures and only for those who can show a negative test result or that they have been vaccinated or have recovered from coronavirus.

Public events can also resume for this group of people and under safety measures. Numbers will be capped at 1 500 people for indoor and 3 000 people for outdoor events, Kurz said.

Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig said it remains to be seen whether the capital - which is currently under a strict lockdown with movement restrictions and only essential shops open - will be able to reopen.

"May 19 is still far away," the Social Democrat mayor told a separate press conference, just before Kurz addressed reporters.

The Alpine EU member has so far recorded more than 604 000 coronavirus infections with 10 055 deaths. Vienna and two other eastern provinces tightened restrictions this month as their intensive care units filled up with Covid-19 patients.

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