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Vienna tightens rules for Covid-19 tests

The validity of both PCR and antigen Covid tests has been shortened in Vienna as of Wednesday, in a bid to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Vienna tightens rules for Covid-19 tests
Covid tests will be valid for a shorter period of time from September in Austria. Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash

Covid-19 tests will allow access to bars and restaurants for a shorter period of time from 1st September in Vienna, Mayor Michael Ludwig announced on Tuesday.

Antigen tests taken in a test centre or pharmacy will be valid for just 24 hours, while the PCR test validity will be reduce from 72 to 48 hours.

Tests are required to enter anywhere where the 3G rule applies in Austria, unless people have been vaccinated or recently recovered from the virus. 

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

The changes will not apply to children aged under 12, who are not eligible to be vaccinated.

Why is the test rule being tightened? 

While Austria was one of the most enthusiastic adopters of a widespread testing regime, the government is making the change in order to encourage people to be vaccinated rather than rely on tests. 

People must show that they have tested negative, recovered from or been vaccinated against Covid-19 to access restaurants, bars and sporting and recreational facilities in Austria’s capital, so the move will make life harder for people who have not been vaccinated.   

3G to 1G: Could Austria make bars, gyms, hairdressers and events ‘vaccinated only’?

Vienna is considering stricter measures to turn the screws on the unvaccinated, including the so-called ‘1G’ rule which would restrict entry in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hairdressers and gyms to the unvaccinated only. 

Vienna officials, including health chief Peter Hacker, are in favour of this plan. 

As at August 25th, Austrian federal authorities said they are in the process of considering such a plan. 

Several Austrian states have indicated they are in favour of this idea, however have preferred a federal solution rather than going it alone. 

READ MORE: How Vienna wants to restrict restaurants and events to vaccinated people only

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Donauinselfest: What you need to know about Austria’s biggest open air festival

Austria has the largest free open-air festival in Europe, and the Donauinselfest is taking place this weekend. Here is what you need to know.

Donauinselfest: What you need to know about Austria's biggest open air festival

The Austrian Donauinselfest is known as the largest free open-air music festival in Europe, and it happens yearly on Vienna’s Danube island. The festival attracts around three million visitors over its three days of events and is starting on Friday in the Austrian capital.

The festival has been taking place yearly since 1983 on the 21.1-kilometre river island. This year, it has 14 different areas and 11 stages, according to the official website. Visitors can expect more than 600 hours of program.

READ ALSO: The best festivals and events to enjoy in Austria this summer

Here is what you need to know to enjoy the programme fully.

When and where is the festival?

The festival has an extensive range of events starting on Friday, June 24th, and lasting until Sunday, June 26th. It takes place on the island between the new Danube and the Danube rivers, known as the Donauinsel.

READ ALSO: 7 things to know about driving in Austria this summer

It is easily accessible via the U1 (Donauinsel station) and U6 (Handelskai station) metro and there are no parking spaces available near the festival site.

Admission to the event is free.

The festival is back after the pandemic

After two years of reduced capacity and many Covid-19 restrictions, the Donauinselfest is back to (almost) normal. There is no limit to the number of visitors, no requirement to show proof of vaccination or recovery from the disease, and no mask mandate.

However, the authorities have asked that people take “personal responsibility” as coronavirus infection numbers have been rising.

READ ALSO: Five of the best things to do in Vienna this summer

The organisers have requested people to get tested before visiting the vast festival, Vienna.at reported.

People gather on the shores of the Danube river, in Vienna during a hot sunny day and Danube Day on June 29, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN

“We ask everyone who would like to visit the Donauinselfest this year to take a PCR or rapid test in advance and thus protect themselves and others. People with symptoms are not allowed to enter the festival grounds.”, said organiser Matthias Friedrich.

Though masks are not mandatory, they are recommended on-site if it is too full of people and no social distancing is possible. Besides, there is a masks requirement to all Donauinselfest workers in indoor areas.

Watch out for what you cannot bring

There is an extensive list of things that are not allowed on the festival site. For example, visitors are not allowed to take large bags and backpacks (“A3 format”, according to the website). However, a gym bag is not considered a backpack.

Animals, including dogs, are prohibited – except for guide dogs and service dogs.

You are also not allowed to bring umbrellas, alcoholic beverages, cans, glass bottles, or drones. The list of prohibited items includes “propaganda material”, spray bottles, whistles, large or bulky objects, bicycles and skateboards, stools and chairs, food and more.

Check out the complete list here.

Danube festival

Vienna’s “Danube-island” Festival will return this weekend. (Photo by DIETER NAGL / AFP)

READ ALSO: Forecast: Austria set for high temperatures and storms throughout weekend and beyond

You can – and should – bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as temperatures are expected to be around the 30Cs over the next few days.

What kind of music is there?

The festival has several stages and a broad programme selection. The bands are usually more regional, with a significant presence of Austrian, German, and Italian bands.

You can find all sorts of music, from pop to rock, rap, and techno. There are even tribute bands like Break Free, which will play Queen’s best signs on the rock stage.

The program includes other activities as well, such as poetry slam, art stages, sport areas, and even events for families and children.

You can check the official program here.

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