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HOLIDAY

Will summer holidays be possible this year in Austria?

A recent survey by the German institute for tourism found 79 percent of Austrians are planning a summer holiday, with holidays in Austria particularly in demand. But how could holidays look in summer 2021?

Will summer holidays be possible this year in Austria?
Photo: AFP

The situation now

At present, all hotels and restaurants are closed in Austria until at least Easter, which takes place on the first weekend in April. In addition, it is quite difficult to travel in or out of Austria.

It is difficult for people arriving from most countries outside the EU to enter Austria unless they are resident here. 

People arriving to Austria from within the EU must present a recent negative PCR or antigen test and go into quarantine for ten days. The quarantine can be shortened to five days with a negative test. 

How could summer holidays in Austria be possible this year? 

Austria and Greece are calling for Europe to adopt a “vaccine passport” which can show test or vaccine data, allowing people to travel this summer. The idea of such a document would be to permit those who have been vaccinated to travel freely within the EU.

Within Austria the passports – based on a similar model in Israel – would entitle people who had been fully vaccinated to use their passports as proof when visiting bars and restaurants, going to gyms or attending events. 

EU leaders said in February that a draft of the arrangement will be made available in March, although the actual passport is not expected to be released until later. 

Will people from other countries be able to come to Austria for a summer holiday? 

Hopefully it will be possible for people from other countries to come to Austria for a summer holiday. German tourists are particularly important for Austria’s tourist economy. Normally five to six million German visitors come to neighbouring Austria on holiday every year. 

Will people living in Austria be able to travel abroad for a summer holiday? 

It all depends on a number of factors: the success of the vaccination campaign in the next few months, the course of the pandemic and whether a vaccine or testing passport can be made to work.

On Friday EU states agreed to aim to establish a vaccine passport system by early summer.

However, there has been no agreement on the advantages such a passport would offer. Meanwhile, Austria’s vaccination campaign has started to gather pace.

As of Monday more than 650,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been given, with more than a quarter of the entire number of doses injected last week between Tuesday and Friday.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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