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Can I travel to Austria if I’ve been vaccinated?

As coronavirus vaccination programs around the world pick up speed, some countries are starting to open up to vaccinated travellers. Can vaccinated people now enter Austria?

Can I travel to Austria if I’ve been vaccinated?
When can vaccinated travellers return to Austria? Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP

The short answer is yes – but it depends on where people are travelling from.

There are also border entry requirements in place to ensure the safety of visitors and residents, with differing rules for different countries.

Who can travel to Austria for a holiday?

After losing the winter ski season to a long lockdown and a reduction in coronavirus cases, Austria has relaxed many restrictions in recent weeks.

This includes allowing some travellers to enter the country for a holiday – but only if they are from countries with a low-incidence rate.

EXPLAINED: The new rules for entering Austria

Currently, Austria has identified most European countries and a handful of worldwide countries, such as Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, as “safe”.

The full list of countries can be found at austria.info.

This means travellers from “safe” countries can enter Austria for a holiday without having to quarantine – as long as they have spent the past 10 days in the specified countries.

Travellers must also show proof that they have been vaccinated, have a negative test (PCR or antigen) or recently recovered from coronavirus.

For people that cannot show proof, pre-travel clearance is required before travelling and they will have to take a coronavirus test within 24-hours of entering Austria.

What about travellers from other countries?

For travellers from the UK, Brazil, South Africa and India where coronavirus variants have been detected, travel to Austria is only allowed for a limited number of reasons, such as for business and medical treatment, or for Austrian citizens and residents.

Travellers must register digitally in advance to get pre-travel clearance and will have to show proof of eligibility to enter Austria at the border, as well as a negative PCR test (antigen not allowed) from within the past 72 hours.

People travelling to Austria from these countries also have to quarantine for 10 days after arrival, with the option to take a coronavirus test on day five to end the quarantine early.

A return to normality in travel will be facilitated by Austria’s green pass. Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP

This means Austria is not open for tourism for travellers from these countries – not even for vaccinated people.

For travellers from other countries (third countries) similar rules apply and tourism is not allowed, but people can enter for business or medical reasons with pre-travel clearance. 

For travellers from third countries that are vaccinated or recently recovered from coronavirus, there is no need to quarantine. With a negative test, a 10-day quarantine is required.

In Austria, there is also a landing ban in place on direct flights from the UK, Brazil, South Africa and India.

Direct flights from South Africa and Brazil have been banned since January and India was added at the end of April. The ban on flights from the UK was reinstated on 1 June.

There is no confirmation on when the flight bans will be lifted.

What is happening with the Green Passport?

The “Green Passport” is a digital certificate that is being rolled out across the European Union to facilitate travel and free movement within the bloc.

The certificate will show whether a person has been vaccinated, has tested negative for coronavirus or has recently recovered and is expected to go live on 1 July 2021.

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

Austria’s coronavirus digital immunity card (Green Pass) was due to be implemented earlier this month but it has been delayed. 

It will operate under the current 3G system (vaccinated, recovered or tested) and will be valid across the EU when the wider scheme is rolled out.

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COVID-19

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.

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