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Travel: Who is allowed to enter Austria right now?

Thinking of visiting Austria as a tourist or returning home during the ongoing pandemic? Here's what you need to know.

Travel: Who is allowed to enter Austria right now?
An empty Austrian Airlines check-in counter. Photo: ALEX HALADA / AFP

New rules for entering Austria were put in place on May 19th. Please click here for more information. 

Whether crossing the border or crossing the Atlantic, the rules for entering Austria put in place since the start of the coronavirus pandemic can be confusing. 

To make matters worse, they are subject to frequent change – often at short notice. 

Perhaps the most confusing aspect of the rules is that the quarantine requirements differ from the rules on entry. 

This means that while some people will be able to enter they will have to quarantine, while others will be prevented from entering entirely. 

In addition, almost everyone entering Austria – whether for tourist travel or even for transit or commuting – will need to fill out a form before doing so. 

More information on the form – along with a copy of it in English and German – is available at the following link. 

Quarantine: Here is the form you need to enter Austria

You will also need to present evidence of a negative test. However, this is a requirement of entry and it will not allow you to skip quarantine

This must either be a negative PCR test (not older than 72 hours) or an antigen test (not older than 48 hours).

Here’s what you need to know. 

What are the rules for entering Austria? 

Austria has put in place a comprehensive entry protocol since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Under the protocol, people who have been in certain countries over the past ten days may be restricted from entering Austria – or may need to quarantine. 

People will however be allowed to arrive in Austria under certain circumstances. 

Tighter rules came into effect from December 19th, when Austria puts in place a mandatory quarantine for almost all arrivals.

This will apply regardless of whether you test negative to the virus.

Click the following link for more information. 

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

Who is not restricted from entering Austria?

Austrian citizens and residents will not be restricted from entry regardless of which countries they have been in for the past ten days, although in most cases they will need to quarantine. 

People transiting through Austria without stopping will also not be restricted from entering. 

What impact has Austria’s shutdown had on entry?

Austria’s shutdown rules only allow for ‘essential travel’, meaning tourist travel has been restricted. 

This is the case both for Austrians seeking to travel domestically as well as people from abroad. 

UPDATED: Everything you need to know about Austria’s coronavirus shutdown 

While this has not changed the country’s entry requirements, hotels are not open for tourists. 

Hotels can remain open however to host business travellers as well as people who are travelling for compassionate reasons, i.e. to take care of a sick relative. 

Who is allowed to enter Austria right now? 

Despite the restriction on tourist travel, people from most European (i.e. Schengen plus EFTA) countries – as well as a short list of non-European countries – are allowed to enter Austria. 

In effect though, while they will be allowed to enter, the mandatory quarantine requirement and the closure of hotels means that there will be few cases when they can actually enter, unless they can stay with friends or family. 

Which European countries are considered high risk?

Almost all European and non-European countries are on the high-risk list. 

Arrivals from any high risk country will have to quarantine, regardless of a negative test result.

As at April 21st, 2021, all Schengen/EFTA countries are on the high-risk list, except for Iceland and the Vatican. Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea are the only non-European countries not on the high-risk list. 

More information on this requirement is available at the following link. 

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

Arrivals from EU countries face the fewest restrictions – but will still need to quarantine. Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

What about the UK?

As the United Kingdom is now no longer a member of the EU, it is treated as a ‘third country’ and all entry from the UK is therefore banned, other than for Austrian citizens or residents.

Business travellers from the UK and students studying in Austria will also be allowed to enter. 

Up to date information is collated by the European Union and is available here

What about non-European countries? 

As a default, countries outside Europe are considered to be high-risk – meaning that entry is not allowed. 

There are however some countries where exceptions apply. These are Australia, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand.

People from these countries – who have only been in these countries or in Austria for the past ten days – will be allowed to enter Austria and will not have to quarantine or provide a negative test.

More information is available here. 

Arrivals from all other countries will be restricted, unless the person has Austrian citizenship or residency.

The complete list of countries and risk areas updated by the Austrian government is available here 

Editor’s note: Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice.

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ECONOMY

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Austria’s lucrative winter season has already been hit by pandemic restrictions for the past two years. But this year there is also record inflation, staff shortages and an energy crisis to deal with.

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria's winter season

The winter season in Austria is a big driver of the country’s economy and has been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions for the past two winters.

But this year the industry faces an even bigger crisis – a combination of rising inflation, concerns over energy supplies, staff shortages and the pandemic (because it’s not over yet).

We took a closer look to find out how these issues could impact the industry and what we could expect from this year’s winter season in Austria.

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Inflation

Winter sports is a big guzzler of energy to operate ski lifts, apres ski venues and snow making machines. 

This means the industry is in a vulnerable position as energy prices rise, with some resort operators already confirming they will have to pass on some costs to customers.

Johann Roth, Managing Director at Präbichl in Styria, said that energy costs at the resort have tripled and admitted he is concerned about the coming winter season.

Roth told the Kronen Zeitung: “Of course we will have to increase the ticket prices, and to an extent that has never been seen in recent years.”

READ MORE: Cost of living: Why are restaurants getting more expensive in Austria?

At Planai ski resort in Schladming, Styria, Director Georg Bliem said they aim to keep the day ticket price under €70, but has also set up an energy task force to find cost-saving measures for this year. 

Suggestions for Planai include narrower slopes, reduced snowmaking capabilities, shorter cable car operating times and even a delayed start to the season.

Electricity costs at Planaibahn (the resort’s ski lift and gondola operator) were already at €3 million before the current energy crisis, according to the Kronen Zeitung.

Then there are hospitality businesses and hotels at ski resorts that are also being hit by rising costs.

As a result, the Kurier reports that room prices in overnight accommodation could increase by a further 15 percent in winter, and many people will no longer be able to afford skiing holidays.

Heating may be an issue in winter as the energy crisis looms (Photo by Achudh Krishna on Unsplash)

Energy

Rising prices are just one element of the energy crisis as there are fears that Austria will not have enough gas for the coming winter season – mostly due to the war in Ukraine.

In March, Austria activated the early warning system – which is the first level of a three-step emergency plan – for the country’s gas supply. If it reaches step three (emergency level), energy control measures will be put in place across the country.

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How this would impact ski resorts is unknown, but at the emergency level, households, essential industries and infrastructure would be prioritised for energy.

So far, there is no indication that step two (alert level) will be activated and the European Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory recently confirmed that Austria’s gas storage capacity was 60 percent full

Austria’s goal is to reach 80 percent capacity by November 1st in order to have a safety reserve.

However, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler already appealed to businesses and households in July to start saving energy where possible.

Staff shortages

Ever since Austria (and Europe) started opening up after Covid-19 lockdowns, the hospitality and tourism industries have been struggling to find staff.

In fact, shortly before the start of the summer season in Austria, there were 30,000 open job vacancies in the tourism sector. And the Wiener Zeitung recently reported on how restaurants in Vienna are struggling to keep up with customer demand due to staff shortages. 

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The issue is even being discussed in parliament and it has already been made easier for seasonal workers in Austria to access residency through changes to the Red-White-Red card. 

Now, there are expectations of similar staff shortages for the winter season, which could cause further stress for ski resort operators.

Covid-19

Back in July, it was reported that the federal government was working on a Covid-19 contingency plan to get the country through another autumn and winter.

It envisages four scenarios – numbered from the best to the worst case. In the best case scenario, Austrians can live free of any pandemic rules. In the second best scenario, the situation will remain as it is (find out more about Austria’s latest Covid-19 rules here).

In scenario three, if new variants lead to more severe illness, the mask requirement will be expanded and more testing will be carried out.

READ MORE: REVEALED: The Covid-19 measures for the start of the Austrian school year

There could even be night-time curfews, entry tests and restrictions on private meetings. In addition, major events could be stopped from taking place and nightclubs closed.

Scenario four, the worst case scenario, would mean vaccination no longer offered protection and hospitals became overwhelmed, leading to severe restrictions on people’s social lives.

From what we’ve seen over the past two winters, scenarios three and four would likely impact winter sports operations. But to what degree would depend on the severity of the situation.

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