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HEALTH

Travel: When will Brits be allowed to travel to Austria again?

While flights have been cut and travel discouraged across the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, are Britons actually restricted from entering Austria? Here’s what you need to know.

Travel: When will Brits be allowed to travel to Austria again?
Photo: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

On February 3rd, Austria updated its border restrictions and quarantine rules. 

This included a section entitled ‘new rules for entry from the UK’, which clarified that entry from the UK to Austria is prohibited as a consequence of Brexit. 

As the UK is no longer a member of the EU, it is considered a ‘third country’ by the Austrian government. 

As the guidance outlines expressly

“Due to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, entry from said national territory is treated as equivalent to entry from a third country. This means that entry is generally prohibited, with the exception of EU citizens, business travellers and students.”

Therefore, while Austrian residents and citizens – along with EU residents, business travellers and students – will be allowed to enter Austria from the UK, people without one of these statuses will not. 

Anyone entering Austria will be required to quarantine, although this is expected to be relaxed on May 19th. More information on the quarantine can be found below. 

UPDATED: What you need to know about Austria’s quarantine rules 

Is this a new ban? 

Prior to the announcement, people from the UK were not expressly banned from entering Austria – although there were restrictions in place as a direct result of the coronavirus variant B117, which was first detected in the UK in 2020. 

From December 2020 onwards, flights between the UK and Austria were banned due to the variant, other than some limited exceptions. 

According to the Austrian government “excluded from this are, for example, cargo flights, emergency flights, ambulance / rescue flights, flights for the transport of seasonal workers for agriculture and forestry as well as nursing and health personnel”. 

Now however the grounds of the UK ban will be based on the UK not being a member of the EU, rather than the variant itself. 

People from outside the EU are generally restricted from entering the bloc, other than from a handful of non-EU countries including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. 

More information can be found at the following link. 

READ: Which countries are now on Austria’s quarantine list?

Please note: As of March 9th, several Austrian states extended the quarantine period to 14 days due to concerns about coronavirus variants. 

More information is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: Quarantine extended in several Austrian states

When will Brits be allowed to travel to Austria again?

At this stage, it is difficult to definitively say when the rules will be changed.

From an Austrian perspective, the quarantine rules will be relaxed from May 19th – however this does not mean that the travel ban will be relaxed, but rather that those who are allowed to enter will no longer need to quarantine. 

The most likely scenario is that Austria’s so-called ‘green pass’ framework – which will allow travel for vaccinated people along with those who have recovered from the virus and who have tested negative – will allow travel from the UK.

However, a concrete date for the introduction of this pass has not yet been developed

The UK has also developed its own framework to allow for travel to take place again through its traffic light system. 

While this may make it easier for Brits to be allowed to leave, it is unlikely to influence the Austrian government to change its rules. 

More information about the UK traffic light system is available below. 

READ MORE: What does the UK’s new ‘traffic light’ system mean for travel to Austria?

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HEALTH

‘Kur’: The alternative treatments you can get from a doctor in Austria

In Austria, prevention and self-recovery play a big part in the healthcare system. Here are some alternative treatments that might not be prescribed elsewhere.

'Kur': The alternative treatments you can get from a doctor in Austria

The style of healthcare in Austria is often different to other countries, especially when it comes to prescribing medication.

This is because doctors in Austria have a holistic approach to medicine with a preference for natural and alternative treatments. This is so ingrained that it can even be difficult to get a prescription for antibiotics or sleep medication.

For some, alternative treatments and a focus on the power of rest for recovery can be a good thing. Particularly when compared to many western countries where there is a culture of presenteeism and a habit of dishing out medication without dealing with the cause of an illness.

FOR MEMBERS: Six things to know about visiting a doctor in Austria

But it can also be confusing (and frustrating) for people that are used to leaving a doctor’s office with a prescription for medicine, as opposed to an alternative treatment.

Here’s what you need to know about healthcare in Austria.

How does healthcare work in Austria?

Social insurance (which covers healthcare) is compulsory for people living in Austria, unless you have private comprehensive insurance.

Enrolment in the public health care system is generally automatic and is linked to employment, including self-employment. Insurance is also guaranteed to co-insured persons, such as spouses and dependents, as well as pensioners, students, disabled people, and those receiving unemployment benefits.

The cost of healthcare is linked to income rather than health needs. 

READ MORE: Spas, pregnancy and contraceptives: What Austrian healthcare covers – and what it does not

But Austria actually operates a two-tier healthcare system, so residents can have their own private policies as well. Likewise, doctors can choose to work with public or only private patients – or both.

Also, expect a different style of bedside manner in Austria when compared with many other countries – most notably in a lack of small talk.

It is not rare for consultations to last just a few minutes, a drastic change for people from South America, for example, where doctors sometimes spend 30 to 60 minutes talking to patients. 

What alternative treatments can be prescribed?

One of the most well-known (and most surprising) alternative treatments in Austria is a Kur. This is a spa break for rest and recuperation and it must be prescribed by a doctor.

A Kur is covered by social insurance and the aim is to keep people in work by allowing them some time out to recover from an illness or injury. But don’t expect a chilled-out week by a pool as a Kur usually involves a rigorous schedule of physio and massage. 

For some people – like those diagnosed with Long Covid or recovering from burnout  a stay at a medical rehabilitation facility for several weeks might be prescribed. In this case, the schedule might include sessions with a psychotherapist, as well as physical therapy to aid recovery. Again, the cost is covered by social insurance.

READ ALSO: Reader question: How to get a flu vaccination in Austria?

Another alternative treatment that can be prescribed by a doctor is for a package of infrared (Infrarot) sauna sessions. This is often for people with back or mobility issues.

Similarly, a referral (Überweisung) to a physiotherapist is given out to people with injuries, usually far quicker than in countries like the UK where it can take several months to access physio through the public health system.

And controversially, some Austrian doctors still prescribe homoeopathic remedies in exceptional cases. An example would be when all other treatment options have been exhausted and homoeopathy could improve the situation.

How to get alternative healthcare treatments in Austria?

As with most health issues in Austria, the first step is to visit a general practitioner (Hausartz). Your doctor should then explain treatment options.

In most cases, if an alternative treatment is suitable, then a doctor should offer it. Or at the very least, provide you with a referral to a specialist who could then prescribe a treatment.

However, treatments like a Kur or a stay at a rehabilitation facility are not always prescribed straight away. For example, a Long Covid patient might have to visit a doctor several times before being offered a place at rehab.

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