Austria is forcing skiers to wear face masks outdoors as it follows other European countries in bolstering draconian COVID restrictions in response to Omicron.
From Saturday onwards, face masks must be worn outdoors when social distancing of 2 meters cannot be maintained.
“This will affect Austrian ski resorts, where social distancing of this sort is difficult,” reports the Telegraph. “Proof of vaccination will be also required in all shops in Austria from next week.”
The rule changes are in response to a surge in Omicron cases, with 8,269 total COVID-19 cases reported on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Austria will also begin deactivating the validity of COVID passes after 6 months in an effort to force everyone to get the booster shot.
The so-called ‘green passes’ will expire following a person’s last dose from February, with this period having been reduced from 9 months.
The announcement was made days after people who have had only one dose of the vaccine lost all their green pass privileges.
As we previously highlighted, the Austrian government is hiring people to “hunt down vaccine refusers” in advance of a mandatory vaccination law which takes effect from February.
The unvaccinated in Austria could also be imprisoned for a year under an administrative law that would force them to pay for their own internment.
While countries like England have relied on relatively light touch restrictions in response to Omicron, recognizing that its high transmissibility but mild severity make such measures largely pointless, Europe has doubled down on authoritarianism.
Outdoor masking has returned in Spain, the Netherlands is back under national lockdown, France shut down its nightclubs and Catalonia introduced a night time curfew.