How does Austria's Covid 'traffic light' risk classification work?

Emma Midgley
Emma Midgley - [email protected]
How does Austria's Covid 'traffic light' risk classification work?
A new traffic light, showing a same-sex couple, is pictured on May 12, 2015 in Vienna. On the occasion of the upcoming Life Ball, the Eurovision Song Contest and the Rainbow Parade in Vienna, the Austrian capital with its new traffic lights wants to promote tolerance and raise awareness to better road safety. AFP PHOTO / DIETER NAGL (Photo by DIETER NAGL / AFP)

Each week, Austria's Corona Commission updates a 'traffic light' risk classification for each of Austria's regions. Here's a closer look at how it works.


The traffic light system, first rolled out in August 2020, was updated in June 2021 when a fifth category, "very low risk" or "green" was added.

You can see the risk level by individual state by clicking on this interactive map.


What does each colour mean?

The levels are: green (very low risk), yellow-green (low risk), yellow (medium risk), orange (high risk) and red (acute). 

A region will be green where there is very low risk, defined as up to five new infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

A region will be yellow-green where there is low risk due to individual cases and heavily isolated clusters

A region will be yellow where there are individual cases but the clusters are less isolated, or medium risk.

A region will be deemed orange where there has been an accumulation of cases and clusters are no longer traceable. 

Finally, a region will be deemed red – i.e. high risk – where the outbreaks are uncontrolled and the virus is widespread. 

How are decisions made? 

Austria’s coronavirus traffic light system was launched in August 2020 as a preventative tool to manage risks and assess the need for pandemic containment measures, such as  testing and contact tracing.

An expert committee, with input from Austria’s Coronavirus Commission, the Health Department and the Chancellery will decide whether a region needs to be made a particular colour. 

The committee takes into account a wide range of factors in making the decisions. 

In addition to considering local infection rates over seven days, the traffic light level also takes into account factors such as: 

  • Hospital occupancy
  • Traceability of infection chains
  • Testing rates

The Corona Commission does not have the power to make political decisions as it is an advisory body.


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