Austria considers mandatory PCR tests for returning travellers

Austria considers mandatory PCR tests for returning travellers
Travellers at Vienna Airport. Photo: HELMUT FOHRINGER / APA / AFP
Austria is considering making PCR testing mandatory for travellers returning from high risk areas, with one third of new infections coming from travel.

Austria’s health department wants to introduce mandatory PCR testing for those returning from travel, as this share of infections is on the rise, broadcaster ORF  reports.

Minister of Health Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) had been pushing for PCR tests to be made mandatory for returning travellers from July 22nd, but this was not introduced. 

Mückstein had wanted PCR tests to be made mandatory for people returning from risk areas, such as Spain. 

After all, the number of infections is rising sharply across Europe and Austria and travel clusters are becoming more and more obvious.

READ MORE: One third of new Covid-19 cases in Austria from travel abroad

But on Wednesday the ÖVP signalled that it was sticking to the easing plans as forecast and did not want any further tightening, arguing that this was not urgent as the intensive care units are currently empty. 

On Thursday, the Corona Task Force (Chancellery, Health Minister, Tourism and Interior Ministry) will meet again at Ballhausplatz to discuss the proposed measure.

PCR tests now required in nightlife

There will be more pharmacies throughout Austria offering PCR tests, as these are now a requirement for those wishing to access late night establishments.

From July 22nd, only people who have been vaccinated or those who have had a negative PCR test less than 72 hours ago can attend nightclubs.

This rule might also be extended to tent parties.

People who have recovered from the virus or those who have tested negative with antigen tests will not be allowed to attend.

Free PCR tests will be available at pharmacies in the next few days, President of the Chamber of Pharmacists, Ulrike Mursch-Edlmayr, announced on Wednesday, July 21st.

Gurgle tests to be expanded

There are also plans to expand Vienna’s “gurgle test” scheme.

In Salzburg, PCR tests available in the 15 test lanes of the Red Cross from Friday, in Linz a pilot project for “Alles gurgelt” is already running, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. Carinthia will also offer the Vienna project from August and in Vorarlberg pharmacies will have PCR tests offered. .

READ MORE: Vienna to roll out free coronavirus ‘gurgle tests’ next week


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