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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?

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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Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Austrians expressed shock and anger this week over the suicide of doctor who had been the target of a torrent of abuse and threats from anti-vaccination protesters.

Austria in shock over doctor's suicide following anti-vax abuse

The bells of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral rang out in memory of Lisa-Maria Kellermayr on Monday, and hundreds of people held a candle vigil outside, after the 36-year-old doctor was found dead at her practice on July 29.

She had long been the target of death threats because of her criticism of the widespread anti-lockdown protests of 2021.

An autopsy later confirmed that Kellermayr had taken her own life.

Austria has found itself deeply polarised over coronavirus restrictions and in particular a government policy –subsequently dropped — of making vaccination against the coronavirus compulsory.

Kellermayr — whose practice was in the region of Upper Austria where immunisation rates are particularly low — had frequently complained of the menace.

“For more than seven months, we have been receiving… death threats from those opposed to coronavirus measures and vaccinations,” she wrote at the time, sharing a message from one internet user who said they would pose as a patient in order to attack her and her staff.

She described how she had “invested more than 100,000 euros” ($102,000) in measures to ensure her patients’ safety and was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Then, at the end of June, Kellermayr announced on her professional website that she would not be seeing patients until further notice.

Daniel Landau, who organised a memorial vigil for her in Vienna, said that Kellermayr had become a virtual recluse for several weeks. “She didn’t dare to leave” her office, Landau told AFP.

Fanning the aggression

On Saturday, the head of Austria’s doctors’ association, Johannes Steinhart, said that while aggressive behaviour towards medical staff was not new, it had been “fired up and noticeably aggravated” by the debate over Covid-19 and vaccines.

The police, who had previously suggested Kellermayr was exploiting the situation for attention, insist they did everything to protect her. The local prosecutor’s office also rejected suggestions it could have done more.

“As soon as we received the police report (identifying one of the suspects), we sent it over to the relevant authorities in Germany,” spokesman Christoph Weber said.

On Friday, prosecutors in the neighbouring German state of Bavaria said a 59-year-old suspect was being investigated by a specialist hate speech unit.

At the beginning of the week, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen visited the small town of Seewalchen where Kellermayr lived to lay flowers in her memory.

After news of her death broke, he had appealed to Austrians to “put an end to intimidation and fear”.

‘They’re gagging us’

But on some Telegram groups, the hateful messages continue.

“Some people are celebrating her death; others believe the vaccine killed her,” said Ingrid Brodnig, a journalist and author who investigates online disinformation.

“Stricts laws exist” already against online hate, but not enough is done to implement them, Brodnig said.

One government minister has floated the idea of a separate prosecutor’s office to target such cases. Doctors and researchers have also been targeted elsewhere.

French infectious disease specialist, Karine Lacombe, described how she had been vilified for her work as part of a collective of doctors combatting coronavirus-related disinformation.

She, too, complained that the response from the authorities in the face of threats was not robust enough, and has scaled down her public appearances this year.

“You end up thinking that the risk isn’t worth it,” she told AFP. “In that sense (the aggressors) have won, they are gagging us,” she said.