Austria allows gatherings in groups of up to 10 from 1 May

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober

People in Austria will be allowed to gather in groups of up to 10 starting on 1 May, the government announced on Tuesday as part of further steps to lift coronavirus pandemic curbs, news wires reported.

Since the middle of March, people have been banned from leaving their homes except for essential activities like going to work, shopping or taking walks.

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober told a press conference on Tuesday that the movement restriction will also expire at the end of this week, and that it will be replaced by an obligation to keep 1 metre distance to others in public. This rule will not apply to public transport, where passengers have to wear face masks, Anschober clarified.

Hotels and swimming pools will reopen at the end of May. Austria's tourism sector, which accounts for around 6% of the gross economic product, has taken a massive hit because of the pandemic. The number of hotel guests plummeted by 68% to 1.3 million in March, compared to the same month in the previous year, the national statistics agency reported.

While the government has signalled that it would welcome tourists from neighbouring Germany this summer, Berlin wants Germans to take their vacations in their own country this year.

Anschober said that the lifting of restrictions would be constantly monitored for a possible increase in new infections, which have remained below a hundred per day for more than a week. "We can hit the stop button any time," he said.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

Similar articles