"From mid-May it will be possible for presentation venues in the artistic and cultural field, definitely museums ... to reopen," Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler of the junior coalition party, the Greens, told a news conference.

A couple stands in front of the painting
A couple stands in front of the painting "The Kiss" by Austrian Jugendstil artist Gustav Klimt at the Belvedere museum in Vienna, March 21, 2012. (Reuters)

Austrian cultural spaces including museums, libraries and bookshops will be allowed to reopen from mid-May as part of the country's step-by-step loosening of its coronavirus lockdown, the government said on Friday.

Austria took a first step in relaxing its month-old lockdown on Tuesday by letting DIY stores, garden centres and smaller shops reopen. Other shops and hairdressers should follow from May 1.

The conservative-led government says the action it took early in the outbreak and the fact infections are increasing by less than 1 percent a day make it possible to reopen parts of the economy, but it will make adjustments if infections accelerate.

"From mid-May it will be possible for presentation venues in the artistic and cultural field, definitely museums ... to reopen," Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler of the junior coalition party, the Greens, told a news conference, adding that a specific date had not been set yet.

Junior minister for art and culture Ulrike Lunacek said libraries and bookshops would also be allowed to reopen then but the state-owned federal museums, which include some of Austria's top attractions like the Belvedere in Vienna that houses Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss," have decided only to reopen in late June.

A specific date for when in mid-May all museums will be allowed to reopen has not yet been set, Kogler said, adding that large events involving many people standing close together, such as music festivals, would remain banned until August 31. 

Source: Reuters