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Everything that changes in Austria in December 2020

Everything that changes in Austria in December 2020
Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP
We’re entering the final month of 2020. Here’s what’s set to change in Austria in December.

Lockdown: Will it stay in place?

The big change will likely be to Austria’s lockdown rules – although the nature of the change is as yet difficult to determine. 

Currently, lockdown is set to end on December 7th. 

A decision will be made on whether to extend lockdown measures on December 2nd. 

Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) is dampening expectations of a return to normality from the 7th. 

“We will have to live with further massive restrictions after December 7th,” he told Austrian media. 

In any case, even if measures are wound back, the Chancellor promised there will be no “hasty opening steps”.

While it appears that schools are likely to go back and stores may be allowed to open again, it appears that the closure of pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants will be extended. 

More information is available here. 

Vouchers instead of Christmas parties

Christmas parties are banned under the current lockdown rules – and aren't likely to be allowed in full for some time. 

Employers in Austria are entitled to spend €365 per employee on the company Christmas party and have the money deducted from tax.

In November, Austrian authorities changed the rules so that this money can be given directly to employees – in the form of vouchers. 

While it is still up to your employer if they decide to do so, Christmas is coming – so perhaps a polite nudge and a reminder is in order? 

Skiing and winter sports

Another big question relates to skiing. 

Austria’s Tourism Minister has hit back against a European effort to close ski resorts across the continent, saying the slopes will be open at Christmas if infections continue to fall.

The tentative reopening date for ski resorts across the country is December 19th, provided infection numbers are low. 

Köstinger told Spiegel that Austrians and tourists should not have to do without skiing this winter. 

“We will do everything we can to ensure that the number of infections falls and that a winter holiday in Austria is possible,” she said. 

'We are well prepared': Salzburg wants to open ski resorts before Christmas 

Köstinger praised her country’s efforts to put in place safeguards to prevent the spread of the virus at ski-resorts, including a nationwide testing program and the banning of Apres Ski parties. 

“The virus doesn’t spread on ski slopes,” Köstinger said. 

Stay tuned to The Local Austria for updated information about when and where skiing will again be allowed. 

Free flight rebooking still possible

In December and January, budget operator Ryanair will continue to waive the rebooking fee for flights booked from June 10th 2020 and scheduled to operate up to and including January due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, passengers must notify the company with any changes at least seven days before departure. It is possible to rebook to another Ryanair Group flight departing before September 30th 2021.

Lufthansa will also waive rebooking fees until the end of the year, as will its subsidiaries Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines.

All fares on short, medium and long-haul flights worldwide can be rebooked several times free of charge.

More trains, more space, more routes

On December 13th, the Austrian railway authority is putting in place a new timetable, including more trains, more routes and more space for travellers in the time of the pandemic. 

Launched under the moniker “even more train for the same money”, the plan also has one eye on safety in the times of coronavirus. 

“By expanding the range, we are creating more trains and thus more space” the ÖBB writes

There will be additional services on the routes Graz – Vienna, Salzburg – Innsbruck, Salzburg – Klagenfurt and Graz – Schwarzach-St. Vitus and new early connections from Bregenz to Innsbruck (from 04:37, at 07:06) and from Vienna to Linz (from 04:55, at 06:30).

Local public transport links have also been extended under the new timetable. 

In addition, hand sanitiser dispensers will be installed on all Railjet and Nightjet trains up until the end of December. Masks and hand sanitiser will also be sold on board. 

More information can be found here

 


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