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COVID-19

How to get a Covid ‘recovery certificate’ in Austria to comply with EU travel scheme

Residents in Austria can now get a special certificate to prove they have recovered from Covid-19 that will comply with the EU's Covid-19 certificates in order to enable travel within the bloc this summer. Here's what you need to know.

A close up of a vaccination card as a doctor enters details about a Covid jab. How do you prove you have had the virus in Austria? Photo: INA FASSBENDER / AFP
A close up of a vaccination card as a doctor enters details about a Covid jab. How do you prove you have had the virus in Austria? Photo: INA FASSBENDER / AFP

The EU has decided certain kinds of proof of a previous coronavirus infection,  will not be accepted for the EU’s Covid Pass  even though they are allowed in Austria.

The new EU Covid Pass, expected to be launched in July, will be needed by Austrian residents who want to travel abroad to other EU countries this summer.

In Austria, currently a paper “separation notice” (Absonderungsbescheid) or a doctor’s note can currently be used to prove that you have recovered from Covid-19 and avoid the testing or vaccination requirement to enter venues and events.

The notice is issued by medical officers in Austria, and allows employees has to stay at home in quarantine for 10 days on full pay in the event of a Covid-19 infection. 

You can also show the results of an antibody test. 

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But according to the EU draft ordinance, proof of recovery can only be based on a previous positive PCR test for Covid-19 (see below). In Austria, this is done when laboratories confirm a positive Covid-19 test result and send the results to the epidemiological reporting system (EMS). 

So Austria has moved to create recovery certificates, that will be complete with a QR code, that will comply with the EU travel scheme and can ONLY be obtained by anyone who has had a positive Covid test.

For those who have had Covid but never tested positive for it they will only be able to travel if hey get a negative PCR test or are fully vaccinated.

Recovery certificates to be created

From May 31st onwards, “recovery certificates” for will be created from laboratory testing data, and will be issued after Austria’s Green Pass starts at the beginning of June. From June onwards, everyone should have access to their recovery certificate.

I have been diagnosed as Covid-19 positive. When do I get my certificate? And how long will it last for?

The certificates can only be issued eleven days after an infection and should be valid for six months. It will contain data such as name, date of birth, date and place of the first positive test result, start and end of validity as well as information about the issuer. 

What information is on the certificate? 

The certificates can either be obtained as a PDF file with a QR code and information such as the holder’s full name and date of infection, or only as a QR code without information which identifies the certificate holder, according to the Ministry of Health. 

How do I get a digital certificate?

For people who have been infected with Covid-19 and have been recorded in the EMS in Austria, a recovery certificate is automatically created and made available to the recovered person via the Gesundheit.gv.at platform.

A mobile phone signature or citizen card is required to log in to the electronic health record (ELGA) and thus to retrieve the certificate.

You can find out how to get a mobile phone signature here.

How do I get a paper certificate? 

You can have your digital recovery certificate printed out free of charge via the municipalities or  district administrative authorities or the ELGA ombudsman. It is still under discussion over whether it might also be possible in the future to get a free printout of test and vaccination certificates directly at the test and vaccination centres.

Will these new digital certificates be mandatory in Austria?

If you are in Austria, you can still show either a separation notice, a doctor’s confirmation of an infection with Covid-19 or evidence that you have tested positive for antibodies. The new certificates will not be mandatory. 

A support point will be set up

For the time being, it is unclear how to proceed if there is an error and despite a positive Covid-19 test, the entry in EMS is not made or is delayed. Details will follow. However, according to the Epidemic Act, incorrect certificates must be corrected and reissued within five days. 

Inquiries about Austria’s “Green Pass” can already be made via the AGES telephone hotline (0800 555 621).

What are the penalties for showing fake documents? 

Showing false evidence that you have recovered, tested negative for or been vaccinated against Covid-19 is punishable by an administrative fine of up to €500 and could result in criminal charges in Austria.

Useful vocabulary

Green pass: Grüner Pass

Recovery certificate: Genesungszertifikate 

Epidemiological reporting system (EMS) – Epidemiologische Meldesystem

Separation notice – Absonderungsbescheid

Antibodies – Antikörper

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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.”

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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.

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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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