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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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HEALTH

Austria makes quarantine announcement for monkeypox

The Ministry of Health has announced new quarantine guidelines for dealing with monkeypox in Austria.

Austria makes quarantine announcement for monkeypox

The Ministry of Health has published a set of guidelines for authorities after Austria reported its first case of the disease on Monday.

A three week quarantine now applies to contacts of confirmed cases, but only if they are showing symptoms of monkeypox, reports Der Standard.

The isolation period can be completed at home or at hospital, depending on the state of health of the patient.

Furthermore, contacts of a positive case will be treated as either Type I or Type II in a move similar to the management of Covid-19 contacts.

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

Type I contacts are considered as high-risk and include those who have had direct contact with skin lesions of an infected person, such as sexual partners, but also close passengers on planes, buses or trains for a period of at least eight hours. 

High-risk contacts do not have to isolate straight away but must monitor their condition for 21 days through a daily phone call with the health authorities. If symptoms occur, then the person has to quarantine for three weeks and a PCR test has to be carried out.

Type II contacts are short social contacts, such as work colleagues (not in the same office), or fleeting contacts in gyms, saunas or bathrooms. These contacts must monitor their health for 21 days.

READ ALSO: More pay and longer holidays: How Austria hopes to attract 75,000 new nurses

A case of monkeypox is confirmed after a positive result from a PCR test and Austria currently only has one confirmed case of monkeypox in Vienna.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that positive cases of monkeypox are contagious for the entire duration of an infection, which can last from two to four weeks.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

The disease displays symptoms in two phases.

The first stage involves a high temperature, muscles aches, back ache, chills, headache, swollen glands and exhaustion.

This is typically followed a few days later by a rash on the mouth, throat, face, hands and forearms before spreading to other parts of the body. The genital area can also be affected.

READ MORE: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

A patient is no longer contagious when the rash has disappeared.

To be considered a suspected case, a person must have been in contact with a probable or confirmed case of monkeypox, recently returned from West or Central Africa or been in contact with a potentially infected animal.

Additionally, a person must have developed a rash of unknown cause and at least two other symptoms (e.g. fever, chills) within 21 days after contact.

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