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EXPLAINED: Can tourists get Austria’s Covid green pass to visit bars and events?

As travel picks up across Europe, there is a new challenge for tourists to navigate when visiting a new country - Covid-19 digital immunity cards.

EXPLAINED: Can tourists get Austria’s Covid green pass to visit bars and events?
A person has their Covid vaccination details checked. Photo: Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash

Austria’s coronavirus digital immunity card – known as the ‘Green Pass’ – is now live, but is it also available for tourists to use?

The short answer is – no, not yet.

For example, people arriving from an EU country can already access the EU Digital COVID Certificate in Austria, so they don’t need to download and use Austria’s digital immunity card. 

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

Plus, in the most cases an Austrian mobile phone number or citizen card is needed to use Austria’s Green Pass, which rules out tourists.

For now though, tourists in Austria from outside of the EU can use paper or digital copies of vaccination certificates, negative tests or proof of recovery to access 3G areas.

What does this mean for people travelling to Austria? Here’s what you need to know.

How does Austria’s Covid-19 digital immunity card work?

The Green Pass involves downloading an app and using a QR card to access places where the 3G rule (vaccinated, tested or recovered) applies.

Places include gastronomy businesses like bars and cafes, hotels and language classes. 

To access the Green Pass, users need a Handy Signatur (a digital ID connected to an Austrian mobile phone number) or an Austrian citizen card

READER QUESTION: Can I travel to Austria if I’ve had AstraZeneca’s ‘Covishield’ vaccine?

However, people can still use the paper version of 3G certificates, such as a vaccination card, proof of recovery or proof of a negative antigen test to access 3G areas.

While this must be an official document, it does not need to have a QR code to be valid. It needs to be either in German or in English in a latin script and must be produced on request from business owners or police. 

The Austrian Federal Government has also said the Green Pass will not become compulsory.

Can tourists from EU countries use the Green Pass?

The Digital COVID Certificate was launched by the EU on 1st July and it is recognised in Austria.

The EU version can be used in the same way as the Green Pass to show proof of 3G, but paper or digital copies of test and vaccination certificates from other EU countries are also accepted.

This means EU tourists don’t have to worry about accessing Austria’s Green Pass.

What about tourists from other countries?

Currently, only the Green Pass and the EU Digital COVID Certificate are recognised in Austria and can’t be accessed by people from outside of the EU.

Unlike in some other countries, you cannot simply arrive in Austria and do a test. This is because in the most cases to get the green pass you need an Austrian phone number, citizen card or e-card. 

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

But the EU Digital COVID Certificate might be extended to travellers from third countries in the future, like the UK and the US.

In the meantime, the British government is currently working on making its NHS app compatible with the EU system.

The EU is also working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to find a solution to recognising vaccine certificates without a QR code (an example is the US where certificates do not have a QR code).

If I can’t get the green pass, what does this mean for my trip to Austria? 

Fortunately, Austria still runs on paper – meaning you can show your paper evidence of vaccination, recovery etc when visiting bars, events and restaurants in Austria. 

This includes paper evidence of vaccination from abroad, such as in the United Kingdom. 

Several readers have told us they have also been able to show their NHS app at certain venues, although this is not official government policy. 

While this must be an official document, it does not need to have a QR code to be valid. 

It needs to be either in German or in English in a latin script and must be produced on request from business owners or police. 

Both the UK and Israeli governments are currently working with the EU on getting their apps accepted in Austria. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Austrian railway workers set to strike after pay talks fall flat

Austria's railways are set to grind to a halt on Monday due to failed negotiations between unions and rail operators, the country's railway system (ÖBB) said on Sunday.

Austrian railway workers set to strike after pay talks fall flat

Austrian railway workers will hold a one-day strike on Monday after another round of negotiations between unions and railway representatives failed.

The fifth round of negotiations over pay rises for 50,000 employees from 65 different railway operators, including the main national operator ÖBB, had failed to come to a resolution.

Vida, the trade union that represents the workers, has asked for a wage increase of €400 – an average increase of around 12 percent.

In response, Austria’s Chamber of Commerce offered an increase of a 8 percent.

With walkouts set to go ahead, there will be no regional, long-distance or night trains on Monday.

“After more than twelve hours of intensive talks, the [two sides] unfortunately did not manage to come to an agreement,” the ÖBB said in a statement.

Cross-border traffic and night travel could be affected, and the ÖBB also warned of “individual train cancellations” on Sunday evening and even on Tuesday.

Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB, said in a statement: “I cannot understand this strike at all. With an offer of 8.44 percent, the ÖBB has made the highest offer of any sector.”

“This is clearly a malicious strike on the part of the union,” he added.

Vida union negotiator Gerhard Tauchner said that they “are fighting for a sustainable cost of living adjustment… which will give relief to those with lower and middle incomes in particular in the face of skyrocketing prices.”

Austria’s year-on-year inflation rate hit 11 percent in October. 

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