Written by Staff Writer
Vaccinated people will no longer have to follow a 6-day quarantine as a measure of national security when traveling to the Czech Republic and other eastern European countries.
The Austrian government announced the measure on December 20, and said that since it was introduced the previous month, just nine cases of the infectious virus have been detected out of an estimated 100 million visitors, according to the Austrian news agency APA.
Those who remain in isolation for more than six days will no longer be asked to take their medication, and have the right to volunteer for blood tests and other tests without fear of prosecution, they said.
The reversal is in response to concerns from Czech health authorities that European citizens entering the country via Austria will now bring back possible cases of the virus, which is already spread by hand-to-hand contact and sharing food and drink.
There is already a similar rule in place, but only for travelers from Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Romania.
Austria’s extreme measures come as part of a wider effort to decrease travel from its eastern neighbors.
In September, Hungary announced it would change its aviation policy, bringing forward a ban on transportation of passengers from Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina from Hungary to Budapest, to take effect on January 2, 2019.
After Budapest airport announced the new policy, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vulin said it was “unfair to ban migrants from EU territory as Serbia has already taken in large number of refugees.”
Austria’s move may have been a pre-emptive move, with Serbia earlier announcing it was conducting a wider health-screening process that includes medical checks, disinfection and medicine assistance for travelers arriving from Austria.
The 6-day quarantine was introduced after many cases of the highly contagious and incurable, and mostly spread by direct hand-to-hand contact, were reported in Austria.
Six adults in the region developed flu-like symptoms, of which four were hospitalized.
On December 20, the Austrian embassy in Bucharest tweeted: “The police are conducting checks to ensure public health and dignity at the border of #Austria & #CzechRepublic.”