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UPDATED: These Covid rules apply in Austrian schools from Monday

Covid-19 measures for school have been announced ahead of the start of the new school year in Austria.

UPDATED: These Covid rules apply in Austrian schools from Monday
Austria has put in place a range of new rules when school goes back after the summer holidays. Photo by marco fileccia on Unsplash

As teachers and parents prepare for the start of the new school year, the Minister of Education Heinz Faßmann (ÖVP) has now confirmed Covid-19 measures for schools.

A two-week “safety phase” was initially announced, but that has now been extended to three weeks as Covid-19 cases across the country continue to rise.

The safety phase will include a requirement for staff and students to wear a mask outside of the classroom but not while sitting in class.

Faßmann confirmed the safety phase will also include compulsory Covid-19 tests for students and teachers, regardless of vaccination status.

This will then be followed by the existing nationwide 3G rule, which means students and teachers will have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test to attend school.

However, if the incidence rate in a federal state is below 100, then students can take an antigen test voluntarily.

If the incidence rate is between 101 and 200, the risk is classified as medium, which means masks are required outside of class and unvaccinated teachers and students have to test three times a week.

If the incidence rate rises above 200, masks will also have to be worn while seated in class.

Faßmann first announced the measures during a visit to a summer school on Tuesday 24th August, where he rejected the possibility of compulsory vaccination for teachers.

On Wednesday, Faßmann said the Federal Government intends to avoid comprehensive school closures during the autumn and winter.

How will the new rules work?

In the first three weeks of the new school term, both students and teachers will have to take three Covid-19 tests each week. One of them must be a PCR test.

According to Kronen Zeitung, it is expected the testing regime will start on Monday with a nasal antigen test and a PCR test. The reason for both tests is the result from an antigen test takes around 15 minutes, but the PCR can take around 24 hours.

READ MORE: Covid hospitalisations in Austria double in a fortnight

PCR test results are valid for 72 hours, so staff and students will then have to take another antigen test on Thursday.

After the three-week safety phase has ended, schools will adopt the 3G rule depending on the incidence rate in the province.

For students, both the antigen and PCR tests can be done at schools, including the “spit test” through a sample of saliva.

Teachers will have to present an external PCR test, which can be conducted at testing stations across the country.

Headteachers will be responsible for collecting the results and informing class teachers, who will then inform the students.

Negative test results will be entered into the Ninja Pass, along with vaccination status. Children are eligible for vaccination in Austria from the age of 12.

The Ninja Pass allows school children to access hospitality venues and sports facilities, like swimming pools and cinemas.

‘Ninja tests’: What are Austria’s coronavirus sticker book tests for children?

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Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?

The EU has eased recommendations for face masks on flights and in airports, but member states are free to put their own rules in place.

Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?

Since Monday, May 16th, it is no longer mandatory to wear a medical-grade face mask on flights and at airports within the EU.

But Austria will continue with the rule for now, meaning that masks are required on flights to Austria.

The implementation of the EU recommendation is based on the national rules in individual countries. 

For flights, where a destination country has a mask rule in place, then masks must be worn. 

An Austrian Airlines spokesperson told the Kronen Zeitung: “The easing of the mask requirement is an EU recommendation that must be reflected in a national regulation in order to also apply in Austria.” 

The aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC states that if masks are mandatory on public transport at the point of departure or at the destination, then the regulation should also continue on board the aircraft.

According to current Austrian Covid-19 regulations, wearing an FFP2 mask is still required in hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets, and administrative buildings.

READ MORE: LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules

In addition to Austria, masks are still compulsory in some public areas in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy – all key tourism destinations for travellers from Austria.