This report was last updated on September 23rd.
As at mid-September, Austria has tightened the requirement to wear an FFP2 mask in many public places.
An FFP2 mask will be required for public transport and in essential retail shops, like supermarkets and pharmacies, with cloth masks no longer acceptable.
FFP2 masks are also required in hospitals or nursing homes.
In retail shops and stores, FFP2 masks are mandatory for the unvaccinated. For vaccinated people, masks are recommended rather than mandated.
Those who have had the virus and recovered from it in the past six months are also not required to wear masks in retail (they are merely recommended).
Masks do not need to be worn in bars, restaurants and anywhere else where the 3G rule is in place. In effect, it means wearing masks is required in areas where entry cannot be restricted.
The announcement follows the reopening of hospitality last month and the end of a night time curfew that had been in place for several months.
The tightening or relaxation of the mask requirement will depend on a continued low incidence rate of Covid-19 though, which is being monitored by the Ministry of Health, along with reference to hospitalisation rates and ICU capacity.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has repeatedly said that the only way out of the pandemic is for more Austrians to become vaccinated.
In an interview with the Österreich newspaper in July, Kurz also said he did not want masks to become “permanent” in Austria, and said it was not part of the culture in Europe, unlike in other places, such as Asia.
What about the Delta variant?
As the Delta variant continues to spread around the world – particularly in the UK and the US – there are concerns about an increase of the strain in Austria.
The Kronen Zeitung reports that Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) is expecting cases of the Delta variant in Austria to increase, but that any spread of the strain will be slow.
Kurz said there is “no reason to panic” but urged people to get vaccinated before the Delta variant becomes more established in Austria.
Kurz also dismissed criticism that Austria is repeating the mistakes of last summer and said the country is well prepared for the next wave through the vaccination campaign.