Can I go on holiday during Austria’s coronavirus lockdown?

Austria’s lockdown is in place until at least December 6th. Can you go on a short trip within Austria or abroad?

Can I go on holiday during Austria’s coronavirus lockdown?
Can I go on holiday? If so, where? Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Austria went into a tight lockdown on Tuesday, November 17th. 

Under the lockdown, everyone in Austria has been required to stay home 24 hours a day other than for a limited range of exceptions. 

READ: Everything you need to know about Austria's coronavirus lockdown 

The lockdown will stay in place until at least December 6th and the rules apply in all of Austria’s nine states. 

Under the rules, people will only be allowed to leave the house for the ‘necessary basic needs of life’. 

While these ‘needs’ are not expressly defined, the Austrian government has clarified what people are allowed to do on several occasions that include visiting close family and friends, go to the doctor, exercise, shopping and going to work. 

According to the Austrian Ministry of Health, the restrictions allow people to leave the house for “physical and mental recovery”. 

What exactly that means – and whether it includes a vacation – is however up for debate. 

EXPLAINED: Is it safe to ski in Austria this season? 

Can I stay with family or friends in Austria? 

Staying with family or friends is permitted, provided the connection is ‘close’ – i.e. an ‘important contact’.

The people visited must be “close family members” or “important contacts with whom contact is maintained several times a week”, rather than friends or acquaintances. 

Whether a person is defined as an “important contact” or not will depend on a case-by-case assessment, the government confirmed, reports Der Standard

Can my family visit another family – or must I travel alone?

It does however appear that one family cannot go to meet another family under the current rules which apply until December 6th. 

One area of confusion when the announcement was made related to contact restrictions. 

On Sunday evening, Austria’s Ministry of Health clarified the rules. 

As reported in Der Standard, only one individual is allowed to visit members of another household (regardless of the number of people in the household). 

Can I go for a vacation in Austria? 

If you are not visiting family and friends, it appears you cannot currently go on vacation in Austria. Hotel stays for the purposes of a vacation are not considered by the Ministry to be acceptable. 

One exception is if you have a second home in another part of Austria. In that case, you may travel and stay overnight there – but the usual lockdown rules apply. 

Can I leave Austria? 

Under the rules, you are clearly allowed to leave Austria to visit close family members, partners or for professional reasons. 

Travelling to a second home outside of Austria is also permitted, Kurier reports. 

Note that there may be entry restrictions or other rules to comply with in the destination country. 

Austria's coronavirus lockdown: Under what circumstances can I leave my apartment? 

In addition, the Ministry of Health has confirmed that you are allowed to walk, run or cycle in a neighbouring country for the purposes of “physical and mental recovery”.

However, staying in a hotel abroad is not considered by the Ministry to be a legitimate reason for “physical and mental recovery” unless it is for professional reasons, to visit family or to take care of a sick relative, Kurier reports

Does this mean that a holiday abroad is therefore forbidden? 

According to Kurier, while health authorities allow you to spend time away from your place of residence for the purposes of relaxation, whether you can head to the Canary Islands for a few days – or whether you can be stopped and fined on your way to the airport – is up in the air. 

UPDATE: How much will you be fined for breaching Austria's coronavirus measures? 

Constitutional and administrative lawyer Peter Bußjäger told Kurier that trips abroad are “officially not forbidden” and that an effort to fine someone for going on vacation “would probably not hold up in court”. 

“Prohibition norms have to be precise, but the regulation is not enough at this point,” he said. 

Bußjäger said a court would be likely to strike down an attempt to prevent someone from staying in a hotel abroad on a holiday – primarily as visits to second homes are allowed. 

Bußjäger said however that the reason for heading abroad would be relevant in the court’s decision. 

“It is understandable that there is a higher risk of infection in a hotel than, for example, when hiking,” he said. 

Even deciding to go abroad for a beach holiday would be looked at more favourably by the courts than, for instance, going abroad to stay in a thermal bath hotel, Bußjäger said. 

Editor's note: Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. This advice relates to the current lockdown rules, which apply until December 6th. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice.

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EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

Austria's capital city Vienna has begun registration appointments for those who want to get a monkeypox vaccine. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

As of September 9th, people can make reservations for monkeypox vaccination in Vienna, authorities announced. It is possible to register for the vaccine using the health service line by calling 1450 or via the Impfservice website.

The City of Vienna has said the pre-registration is needed because all planning will be done through a central system due to a shortage of vaccines.

“Please understand that due to the vaccine shortage, we cannot offer preventive monkeypox vaccination to everyone interested. We can use the reservation platform to quickly allocate available appointments and contact interested parties as soon as there are more vaccines”, the authorities said.

After the registration, people will be contacted to book appointments on September 14th. The first available date will be September 19th.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Who should be vaccinated against monkeypox?

Vaccination of the general population is currently not recommended.

Preventive vaccination is only offered to health care workers with a very high risk of exposure to people with monkeypox (designated monkeypox departments/outpatient clinics/offices) and persons with individual risk behaviour (persons with frequently changing sexual contacts), the City of Vienna said.

The health authorities in Vienna also have a specific information sheet in English with more information on the disease.

Monkeypox is a notifiable disease caused by a virus closely related to the smallpox virus and which can cause a condition similar to smallpox but rarely deadly. People with immunodeficiencies, pregnant women and children are at risk of more severe symptoms.

The virus spreads from person to person through contact with infectious skin lesions, via air droplets through speaking, coughing, sneezing, or other body fluids, and when having prolonged and close physical contact, e.g. through sexual intercourse.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Usually, the first symptoms show up 5 to 14 days (at the latest, 21 days) after exposure. These include fever, general exhaustion, headaches, muscle and body aches, gastrointestinal problems and frequently painfully swollen lymph nodes.

“If you have symptoms and have had contact with someone with monkeypox, you must self-isolate at once and call 1450. If you have a confirmed monkeypox infection, you need to stay in self-isolation until the last crust has fallen off”, the Austrian authorities added.