EXPLAINED: What will the rules be when Austria eases restrictions on May 19th?

Restaurants, hotels, schools, sport, events and swimming pools will open up again on 19th May - with rules in place. Here’s your complete guide to how that will work. 

A cafe in Vienna setting out chairs for outside dining at the city's Naschmarkt JOE KLAMAR / AFP
A cafe in Vienna setting out chairs for outside dining at the city's Naschmarkt JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Chancellor Kurz has told Austria that from May 19th everything “from soccer matches to brass band music” will be  possible again”. Further opening steps should come by July 1st at the latest.

So what will the rules be in May? 

How will testing and registration work? 

From May 19th, the first phase of the “green pass” will start. You must provide evidence that you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered to go out to a restaurant.

PCR tests will be valid for three days, antigen tests valid for two days, and there should also be the option of digital self-tests, which are valid for one day. In addition, it should be possible to carry out a self-test  on site. For children, testing at school will work as an entry test.

Registration is expected when when visiting a restaurant, this will involve giving your name, telephone number and email address.

How many people can meet? 

Up to 10 people (plus children) can meet outdoors in groups. Indoors a maximum of four adults (plus children) can meet. 

Bars and restaurants 

There will be access tests and registration requirements. When you are not seated in your assigned seat, you must wear an FFP2 mask. A maximum of four adults (plus children) are will be allowed indoors as a group, and up to ten people in the pub. There will be a curfew of 10pm. Drinking at the bar will not be allowed.

READ MORE: Plastic, paper or digital: How will Austria’s coronavirus immunity card work?


 Indoor football will be allowed again, along with other contact sports. Access tests and registration will be necessary. When practicing sport, it will not be necessary to wear an FFP2 mask.The 20 square metre distance rule does not apply outdoors. 

Culture and Events

Cultural events will require access tests and prior registration. A space of 20 square meters must be available per person indoors in cinemas, large events and sports and culture events. With assigned seats, a maximum of 3,000 visitors will be permitted outdoors, and 1,500 people indoors, with one seat left empty between every household group. Events will be limited to 50 percent capacity. 

Without fixed seats, the maximum inside and outside is 50 people. A curfew of 10pm will be in place. There is no upper limit at the trade fairs, but a 20 square metre per person rule.

The Vienna Prater and other leisure facilities are also allowed to reopen. 


For museums, the 20 square metre rule must be observed, and people must wear FFP2 masks. However, it will not be necessary to show a test/vaccination/recovery certificate.

Students go back to school in Vienna. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Normal face-to-face classes will be back from May 17th. Mouth and nose protection (MNS) is required in lower grades and FFP2 masks in upper grades. Children should be tested three times a week. 


The Green Pass or proof of test, vaccination or recovery must be brought with you for check-in. Anyone who wants to use services in the hotel, such as wellness facilities or a restaurant for a longer period than the entry test allows must carry out additional testing to access these facilities.

In swimming pools and hot water baths, a minimum of 20 square metres must be available per guest.

What about weddings or big parties? 

Weddings, big celebrations or big club events are “not possible yet”,  according to Chancellor Kurz, but may happen again when more vaccinations mean “a return to normality in summer”.

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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.