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When will tourism in Austria open up again?

Austria has had strict entry rules in place since December. When will these be relaxed?

When will tourism in Austria open up again?
Police along the Austrian border. Photo: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

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

On December 19th, 2020, Austria put in place a ‘Christmas quarantine’, which was expected to last until January 10th. 

Almost six months later and the quarantine is still in place. 

But there is good news for people wanting to enter Austria – and Austrian residents wanting to head abroad without having to quarantine on their return. 

Austria’s nationwide relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown measures on May 19th will include its strict quarantine.

READ MORE: Austria to relax most coronavirus measures on May 19th

Another thing to remember is that there are two sets of rules for entry. One is whether you are allowed to enter. The other is whether you will need to quarantine. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

When will Austria relax its quarantine rules? 

Austrian media reports that the quarantine obligation – which currently requires almost all arrivals in Austria to quarantine for ten or 14 days (depending on the state) – will be relaxed for arrivals from almost all EU/Schengen/EFTA zone countries.

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

The likely exceptions within this group are to include high-incidence countries or regions, or areas where virus variants are particularly prevalent.

How will the relaxation of quarantine rules work?

As yet, this has not been finalised – with Austrian media reporting that the government is unlikely to put in place a free for all, i.e. the situation before the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the scheme is likely to be based around the EU health agency ECDC’s traffic light system, which differentiates between areas depending on the prevalence of coronavirus infections.

For countries coloured green or orange, entry is likely to be allowed unfettered, according to Austria’s Der Standard newspaper. 

When a country is coloured light red, negative coronavirus tests or proof of vaccination or recovery from the virus are likely to be required.

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

Travellers from dark red areas will need to comply with a ten-day quarantine obligation, with the possibility of leaving quarantine after the fifth day.

This system therefore resembles that which is currently in place federally (with some states having expanded the scheme to 14 days).

It is as yet unclear as to whether Austria would adopt a system which places entire countries on a risk list, or would do this on a regional basis.

What about arrivals from outside the EU/EFTA/Schengen Zone?

In effect, entry into Austria is restricted to Austrian citizens, Austrian residents and citizens of European Union and EFTA countries. 

Travel: Who is allowed to enter Austria right now?

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. 

Arrivals from a handful of non-European countries will be allowed to enter: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. 

Also, people from Iceland and the Vatican will not be required to quarantine. 

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

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

Arrivals from almost every non-European country are restricted.

This means that American citizens are not currently allowed to visit Austria, unless of course they hold Austrian or European citizenship and residency. 

LATEST: When will Americans be able to travel to Austria again?

In effect, tourist travel is not banned for people with Austrian or European citizenship/residency – however strict rules in place regarding quarantine and the closure of hotels means that few people will actually be able to enter. 

Official information is available here.

As yet, there is no indication as to when this will change. However, Austria as a EU member will participate in the bloc’s decisions regarding visas and entry. 

So should I book my trip now then?

While looking at the current infection rates and making a decision on travelling on May 19th is like deciding to go swimming in a month based on today’s weather, there are several countries which currently sit below the threshold.

This includes Italy, Spain, Greece, Iceland, Portugal, Malta and Finland.

Germany – the country from which the most people arrive in Austria – would also fall.

However, arrivals from France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia and Lithuania would still need to quarantine.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

What is Austria’s Mutter-Kind-Pass and how is it changing?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass is hitting the headlines as the Austrian Federal Government plans a reform of the scheme. Here's how it works now, why it is necessary and how it will change in the future.

What is Austria’s Mutter-Kind-Pass and how is it changing?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass (Mother-Child-Pass) was launched in Austria in 1974 to ensure the health and wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies.

It grants pregnant women free access to essential examinations and consultations, and serves as a record of healthcare.

But big changes are on the cards for the pass as a digitization reform is planned for the coming years, while disputes continue about the cost of the scheme.

Here’s what you need to know about how the Mutter-Kind-Pass works, why it’s necessary and how it will change. 

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules about turning on the heating in the workplace in Austria?

What is the Mutter-Kind-Pass?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass is a small, yellow passport-style document to provide and track healthcare for pregnant women and young children in Austria.

It is issued to a woman when a pregnancy is confirmed by a doctor and contains records of medical examinations during pregnancy. As well as health check-ups for the child up to five years of age.

The Mutter-Kind-Pass exists to ensure pregnant women and children get the necessary medical care they need.

For example, women in Austria are entitled to five medical check-ups throughout their pregnancy including blood tests, internal examinations, ultrasound scans and consultations with a midwife.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Am I liable for ambulance costs in Austria?

Who can get the Mutter-Kind-Pass and how much does it cost?

Any pregnant woman living in Austria can get the Mutter-Kind-Pass (and subsequent health examinations) for free.

However, all examinations must take place with a doctor that is registered with a health insurance company in Austria.

Women without health insurance need a confirmation of entitlement from the Austrian health insurance fund that is responsible for the area where they live.

This is a required step before any examinations can take place free of charge.

Why is the pass necessary?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass and its mandatory examinations are primarily used to detect any illnesses or possible complications early. 

The expected date of delivery is also entered into the Mutter-Kind-Pass, so the document is needed to receive maternity pay in Austria.

Additionally, proof of examinations are required to receive the full entitlement to childcare allowance (Kinderbetreuungsgeld). This means the pass should be taken to every maternity-related appointment, as recommended by the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse.

How is the Mutter-Kind-Pass being reformed?

On Wednesday 16th November, Minister for Women and Family Affairs Susanne Raab (ÖVP) and Minister of Health Johannes Rauch (Greens) announced a reform of the Mutter-Kind-Pass.

The most notable change will be a transition from the paper booklet to a digital app in 2024, as well as new services and a name change to the Eltern-Kind-Pass (Parent-Child-Pass).

Raab said: “In addition to the services in the area of ​​health care, we will introduce parent advice, which should be a compass for the new phase of life for new parents.”

The new services will include counselling, an extra consultation with a midwife, an additional ultrasound, hearing screenings for newborns, nutritional and health advice, and multilingual information in digital form.

Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

In the future, parents-to-be and new parents will also be offered parenting advice when they have their first child, for example on the compatibility of employment and childcare, on the division of parental leave or on the effects of part-time work on pensions.

“The mother-child pass has been an essential part of maternal and child health in Austria for decades. Now we have managed together to further develop this important instrument in a contemporary form”, said Rauch.

READ NEXT: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about parental leave in Austria

The implementation of the parent-child passport is a comprehensive, multi-year project and will begin with digitisation from next year.

The annual budget for the Mutter-Kind-Pass is currently €62 million and an additional €10 million from EU funds has been allocated to cover the cost of the reforms. 

However, there have been debates in recent months about the general cost of the pass. 

As a result there are ongoing negotiations between insurance companies and the Medical Association about the reimbursement of fees for providing healthcare and examinations.

READ ALSO: ‘Better and cheaper’: What foreigners really think about childcare in Austria

Der Standard reports that the Medical Association is threatening to discontinue the Mutter-Kind-Pass at the end of the year if an agreement on doctors fees cannot be reached. If that were to happen, expectant mothers would have to pay for examinations.

Currently, doctors receive €18.02 per examination and the Association is calling for an 80 percent increase.

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