From December 26th, Austria entered another strict coronavirus lockdown – including a 24-hour stay-at-home order. More information is available here.
From Monday, December 7th, Austria's lockdown has been relaxed.
The 24-hour curfew has been relaxed, meaning that you can leave your home without a reason from 6am-8pm.
From 8pm-6am, you can only leave your home for a specific reason.
Under the rules, people will only be allowed to leave the house for the ‘necessary basic needs of life'.
The rules apply in all of Austria’s nine states.
What rules apply during the day?
During the day, you may meet with a maximum of six adults and six children from a max of two households.
These rules apply both at home and in public.
These rules will however be wound back from the period of December 24th to 26th – and on December 31st.
On those days, you may meet with up to ten people from any number of households. Children do not count towards the tally.
The government has said these limits could be changed closer to the date depending on infection numbers.
You are also allowed to go shopping, exercise, etc – you do not need a reason to leave the house during the day.
What are the ‘necessary basic needs of life’?
Under the rules, people will only be allowed to leave the house for the ‘necessary basic needs of life’ during the nighttime curfew hours.
While these ‘needs’ are not expressly defined, the Austrian government has clarified what people are allowed to do on several occasions to include visiting close family and friends, go to the doctor, exercise, shopping and going to work.
Can I visit someone else in their home?
One area of confusion when the announcement was made related to contact restrictions. 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) during the evening.
Furthermore, 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.
This means that more than one member of one household is not allowed to meet several members of another household.
Whether a person is defined as an “important contact” or not will depend on a case-by-case assessment, the government confirmed.
What about if I live alone?
Another major source of confusion has been whether people who live alone are allowed to visit more than one person (i.e. in different households) for the duration of the lockdown.
Initially, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) said that people who live alone should determine just one person/household they plan on visiting during the lockdown, with visits restricted to just that person or household.
However, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Sunday evening that this rule does not apply.
As reported in Der Standard, it “is also clear that one does not have to define one or more individual people who one meets during the lockdown – they can be different people, provided they fall under the terms “closest relatives” or “important reference persons”.
Can I go to work?
Under the lockdown rules, “anyone who can work from home is required to do so.”
While the word “can” is unfortunately not defined – office workers can do their jobs from home but bakers are likely to find this more challenging – this is probably more a question for your boss than for the police.
What kind of exercise can I do?
The same rules for exercise that were in force in spring will apply (for non-professional athletes) after dark.
Team sports are of course off limits, however individual sports like running, cycling or walking are allowed.
Vice Chancellor and Sports Minister Werner Kogler (Greens) said it was important for Austrians to “keep moving” but said all sport must be done alone.
“Keep moving in the fresh air. Walking, running helps to release tension. It is also a breath for the soul,” Kogler said.
“(But) basically, please do this by yourself. Don’t meet up.”
Hiking is also allowed and there are no time limits for how long you can be outside.
What else can I leave the house for?
Other than the above, visiting the doctor or other health professional is accepted, as is going to church (although most services are suspended and few take place at night), voting in elections, visiting a cemetery (although doing so at night is kind of spooky) or taking care of animals.
You’re also allowed to leave the house for urgent reasons – to avert danger to life, limb and property – but keep in mind that the police are likely to take this seriously.
If you do leave the house, make sure to keep a metre of distance and wear mouth and nose protection.