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COVID-19

EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s new coronavirus measures?

Austria is set to wind back several of its coronavirus measures from Wednesday onwards. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: What are Austria's new coronavirus measures?
A group of cyclists ride past people enjoying a drink in Linz, Austria. Austria will relax its coronavirus measures from May 19th onwards. Photo: LUK BENIES / AFP

The rules were relaxed further from June 10th. Click here for Austria’s updated rules. 

On April 23rd, Austria announced a widespread relaxation of coronavirus measures would take place from May 19th. 

Chancellor Sebastian 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 from May 19th? 

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.

More information is available at the following link. 

‘3G Rule’: How to prove you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid in Austria

Is the nighttime curfew still in place? 

No. This has been relaxed and no longer applies in any Austrian state. 

As a result, you will no longer need an official reason to leave your apartment or home in Austria after 8pm – or indeed at any time at all. 

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?

Sports

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. 

Quarantine

Austria is set to relax its strict coronavirus quarantine on May 19th for most EU countries, making summer travel easier both for people wanting to visit Austria as well as Austrians returning home.

Entry from most countries will be unrestricted, other than areas deemed ‘high risk’ or where variants of the virus are prevalent.

It is replaced by a new system which requires proof of vaccination, testing or recovery from the virus. 

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

More information is available in the following link. 

READ MORE: Austria to relax coronavirus quarantine on May 19th

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. 

Museums

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.

School
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. 

More information about schools is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: What are the rules for schools in Austria?

Hotels 

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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COVID-19 ALERT

Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

As Covid-19 infection numbers continue rising, Austria's government doesn't rule out a comeback of the mask requirement.

Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Austria has seen rising Covid-19 numbers for weeks, and the country’s traffic light commission has increased the risk rating of all federal states, with none currently designated as “low risk”.

Virologists and health experts have given many explanations for rising numbers and forecast that new infections, currently at more than 12,000 a day, could reach more than 30,000 in the next few weeks.

Austria’s Covid commission said that the omicron subvariant BA.4/BA.5 is a decisive factor in the increase, as it is considered more infectious. “Additionally, an increased proportion of travel-associated cases has been observed in recent weeks”, the commission stated.

READ ALSO: LATEST: These are the Covid rules in Austria and Vienna from June 2022

Dorothee von Laer, a Med-Uni Innsbruck virologist, told Der Standard that the new subvariant could be responsible for a new wave as “the protection we have from BA1 infections, and from vaccinations, is not so good against BA.4/BA.5”.

“So people who were infected early on, or who are only vaccinated, have of course some protection against hospitalisation, but almost no or very little protection against infection”, she said.

Von Laer mentioned other factors that likely contributed to the increasing numbers, including the fact that people have stopped wearing masks after the requirement was dropped in most of Austria.

Are masks about to make a comeback?

When Austria’s federal government announced they would drop the Covid mask mandate, they phrased it as a “pause” to the FFP2 masks, which were still mandatory in essential trade and public transport.

Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said that the mask requirement will be “paused”, as the pandemic is not over yet, and that people should be prepared for a resumption of the rules after summer, as The Local reported.

BACKGROUND: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

Many experts believe FFP2 masks won’t be optional for long if numbers continue rising. Von Laer said, “we will probably have to resort to the mask again, even if the hospitals are not overcrowded because we want to protect the vulnerable people”.

The health minister had already stated that it is time people “take personal responsibility” so that they choose to wear masks in crowds or when close to vulnerable people.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

However, he recently added that if the situation “goes in the direction of overloading the health system, then, of course, I am also obliged to react”.

The minister also said he reassesses the situation every week, observing developments in other countries.

‘We will have to learn’

For Rauch, people will need to learn to live with the masks, as future waves can also be expected in the coming years. He added that we would have to learn to take personal responsibility, make self-assessments, and have solidarity.

READ ALSO: Austria sees scores of flight cancellations after airline staff contact Covid

He also assumes more flexible measures in the future. For example, public transport signs will ask for the mask mandate during morning traffic hours, but not on empty evening trains.

His goal, the minister stated, was to find a middle ground between demanding as few restrictions as possible and exercising caution.

Covid-19 stats

Austria on Wednesday reported 12,509 new coronavirus infections after 169,948 PCR tests, according to the Health Ministry.

There were 856 people in hospitals with Covid-19 and 47 in intensive care. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,779 people have died from the disease.

The country has just over 61 percent of its population with a valid vaccination pass.

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