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COVID-19

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

Austria is open for vaccinated, tested or recovered people. Here’s what you need to know about how to prove you are in one of these categories.

'3G Rule': How to prove you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid in Austria
Bars and restaurants can open again in Austria. Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

After six months of being locked down, Austria allowed events, amateur sport, hotels and restaurants to open again from May 19th. 

“We are on the final stretch in our fight against the pandemic,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told reporters in a press conference when announcing the measures in April.

As a result, only people who have been vaccinated against the virus, have tested negative or who have contracted the virus and have recovered are entitled to participate in the reopening. 

This is known in Austria as the ‘3G Rule’ (see below). 

The reopening was to be integrated with Austria’s green pass, however this is not expected to be ready until June 6th. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

What is the ‘3G Rule’ in Austria? 

Anyone wanting to visit restaurants, hotels and take part in events, etc, need to do so pursuant to the so-called ‘3G Rule’. 

The 3G Rule refers to ‘Getestet, Geimpft, Genesen’ (Tested, Vaccinated, Recovered) and describes the three ways someone can provide evidence they are immune to the virus. 

This means they will need to show evidence of vaccination, a negative test or having recently recovered from the virus. 

The rule applies for everyone over the age of 12 in Austria, although in Vienna it applies from the age of six. 

While proving this status will become easier when Austria’s green pass comes into effect, until then you will need to show paper evidence. 

This is outlined specifically below. 

How do I prove I have been vaccinated? 

The yellow vaccination certificate or Impfpass can be used to access pubs and restaurants when Austria relaxes its nationwide lockdown on May 19th, the Ministry of Health confirmed. 

Please note that this applies 21 days after your first shot in Austria (the time period is the same for Johnson and Johnson, which is a one-shot vaccine). Until then, you need to continue to prove immunity through testing. 

If you don’t have an Impfpass, you will be given a vaccination certificate at your vaccination appointment. Or if you like you can pick one up from the pharmacy or your doctor. 

You will receive evidence of your vaccination regardless of where it is carried out, whether that be at a doctor’s office, a pharmacy or a vaccination centre. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How can I prove I’ve been vaccinated to access pubs and hairdressers in Austria?

What about with a negative test?

You can also show evidence of a negative test, although this does get a little complicated due to the variety of tests on offer. 

There are three broad categories of test and they apply for different time periods. 

The self-tests, which you can carry out yourself at home, are valid for 24 hours. Self-tests are not valid in Vienna, but are acceptable in other Austrian states. 

The antigen tests, which you can get done at pharmacies, doctors and testing centres (aka test streets) across the country, are valid for 48 hours. 

PCR tests – which take longer but are considered the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to testing – apply for 72 hours. 

The rules are slightly different for children, who can show their test sticker books. These are valid for 48 hours after the test. 

More information on the test sticker books is available below. 

‘Ninja tests’: What are Austria’s coronavirus sticker book tests for children?

What about proving recovery?

This can get a little more difficult, particularly if you have not visited the doctor when you caught (or believe you caught) covid. 

For people who have a medical certificate saying they were infected, this is relatively simple. You can show this for six months after your infection. 

If you do not have a medical certificate proving you were infected, you can take an antibody test. 

Companies that carry out antibody tests have been encouraged by the government to produce results which are easy to read, i.e. that simply say “positive” or “antibodies found”. 

The results of these tests last for three months, provided of course that the results show you have had the virus. 

Generally speaking, you will need to carry out the tests at your own expense. 

More information is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: How to prove you have recovered from Covid in Austria?

What evidence do I need – and when will we go digital?

Given that Austria still runs on paper, initially anyone wanting to show compliance will have to provide evidence in paper-based form. 

Since early June however, the green pass – which will incorporates digital QR code technology – came into effect. 

However, Chief Medical Officer Katharina Reich from the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday, May 18th, that photographic evidence of the above vaccine, medical certificate or test result, on a mobile phone will also suffice. 

Reich told the press that information should be presented “in PDF form if possible” and must be legible. 

In mid-August, Austria made its green pass app available in English as well as German. Here’s what you need to know

For more information on Austria’s digital Covid-19 app, please click the following link. 

EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s Covid-19 immunity pass and how do I get it?

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

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

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

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

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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