Austria will take further steps to ease its lockdown on Friday, allowing events with up to 10 people and instructing the public they no longer need a specific reason to leave home, the government said on Tuesday.

Austria acted early in its coronavirus outbreak to close restaurants, bars, schools, non-essential shops and other gathering places six weeks ago. DIY stores, garden centres and smaller shops reopened two weeks ago – bigger shops and hairdressers will follow from May 1.

The public has repeatedly been told to stay at home, though that was largely advice rather than a legal requirement.

The recommendation from Friday will be to follow existing social distancing rules like staying 1 metre apart, though working from home is still encouraged, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober and Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said.

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“This is from my point of view a very big change and a very big step, in which we are betting on trust,” Anschober said. “It is now … up to each of us not to be reckless but to conscientiously keep fully implementing these measures.”


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