Vienna to make wearing face masks compulsory outdoors

People who wish to gather in busy areas outside in Vienna will have to wear FFP2 masks outside from Thursday when a hard lockdown comes into force.

The Danube canal in 2017

From Thursday, everyone visiting the Danube Canal, Schwedenplatz, Stephansplatz, Karlsplatz and Maria-Theresien-Platz will be required to wear an FFP2 mask. 

The FFP2 mask requirement will also extend to Resselpark near Karlsplatz, and could be extended to other areas which become too busy, Vienna’s Mayor Michael Ludwig told the Austrian press agency APA, newspaper Wiener Zeitung reports. 

Other areas such as Yppenplatz in Ottakring are under consideration, newspaper Heute reports. However, Vienna’s Kärntner Straße will not have a mask requirement, as the authorities feared it would drive people into narrower side streets, the paper reports. 

Austrian newspaper Der Standard reports large parks such as the Prater will not be put under a mask requirement. 

Outdoor places which require FFP2 masks to be worn will be clearly signposted, Heute newspaper reports. 

‘Easter Rest’ to start on Thursday

EXPLAINER: What is allowed in eastern Austria during the hard lockdown over Easter

Thursday will be the first day of an “Easter rest” period across Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland. During this time people will be asked to stay home, and only leave the house for limited reasons, such as for rest and relaxation, exercise, to buy groceries or essential items, or to seek medical help. 

However, the first day of lockdown will coincide with summer temperatures, meaning Vienna could reach up to 24 degrees, tempting many residents outside to enjoy the sunshine.

READ MORE: Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland to re-enter strict coronavirus lockdown

Non essential retail will close as will hairdressers, museums and zoos and people will be asked to limit their contacts. It is also not allowed to travel out of the eastern states in lockdown to go shopping, visit a hairdresser or to go on holiday.

The Easter pause will stay in place in Burgenland and Lower Austria up to and including April 6th. It has already been extended in Vienna until April 10th. 

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LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules?

Travellers entering the country no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test, but masks are still mandatory in some places.

LATEST: What are Austria's current Covid-19 rules?

From Monday, May 16th, travellers coming into Austria no longer need to present proof that they have either been vaccinated against Covid-19, have tested negative for the disease, or recently recovered from it.

Previously, the so-called 3G rules were in place for all people coming into Austria, with very few exceptions.

The government over the weekend dropped the requirements just ahead of warmer months, stating that the epidemiological situation no longer justified them.

On Sunday, 15th, Austria reported 3,777 new coronavirus cases after just under 110,000 PCR tests were taken. In total, 807 people are currently hospitalised with the disease, and 62 are in intensive care units. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,303 people have died from Covid-19 in Austria.

Despite dropping the entry requirements, the federal government reiterated that the rules could change, mainly if a variant of concern is found.

READ ALSO: Austria extends Covid regulations as experts warn of autumn resurgence

Domestically, Austria still has a few coronavirus restrictions in place, including an FFP2 mask mandate in some areas.

These are the latest rules you need to be aware of:

FFP2 mask mandate

The obligation to wear an FFP2 mask only applies in enclosed spaces of hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets, and administrative buildings.

The mask mandate is no longer in place for enclosed places like gyms, restaurants and bars, and cultural establishments, but masks are still recommended.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in Austria

Isolation after a positive test

After the fifth day of isolation and at least 48 hours without symptoms, you can end quarantine for mild or asymptomatic cases.

However, there is a “traffic restriction” for another five days, with a mask mandate and no entry permitted in gastronomy venues, health and care homes, and events during this period.

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

In order to obtain an early lifting of the restrictions, a free PCR test can be carried out. If the test is negative or with a CT value (short for Cycle Threshold and is the gold standard for detecting Covid-19) above 30, the isolation can be lifted.

If the value is below 30, then you must remain in isolation.

Vienna doesn’t follow the ‘traffic restriction’, so the only way to end the 10-day isolation is with a PCR test (negative or CT value below 30) after two symptom-free days.

You can find more information on federal restrictions on the government website here.

The 3G rule

A 3G rule (proof that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, recently recovered from the disease or has a negative test) is generally only needed for visitors, employees and service providers in hospitals and care homes.

READ ALSO: Ba.4 and Ba.5 Covid variants detected in Austria: What you need to know

In Vienna, on the other hand, the rules are stricter.

Visitors and workers need to have the 3G proof plus a negative PCR test. However, the city has dropped 2G rules for gastronomy and nightclubs – the only places where it was still required to show proof of vaccination or recovery.