Austria wants to make nightclubs and apres ski ‘vaccinated only’ from October

Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein has submitted a proposal to restrict nightclubs and apres ski venues only to those who have been vaccinated from October.

Austria wants to make nightclubs and apres ski ‘vaccinated only’ from October
An apres ski bar in the Austrian winter sports village of Ischgl. Photo: Von Anna Moritz - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The plan was submitted by the Green Party minister to his coalition partners the Austrian People’s Party at the start of September. 

Currently, Austria has in place a strict 3G rule for all bars, gyms, restaurants and other indoor areas, which requires people to be vaccinated, recovered from the virus recently or negatively tested in order to enter. 

This is however stricter in nightclubs, with only those who have been vaccinated or who have had a recent negative PCR test able to enter. 

3G to become 2G: Austria tightens green pass rules

In effect, this is therefore a further tightening, which would mean people who have tested negative would no longer be admitted – while it would also include smaller venues used for parties after skiing and late-opening restaurants. 

Mückstein said it was necessary to protect people from the virus, even if the unvaccinated don’t have the sense to protect themselves. 

READ MORE: Austria’s plan for vaccinated-only bars, restaurants and gyms: Is it legal?

“One area is night catering, but also stand-up parties like après-ski. We need to protect the unvaccinated. That means that the unvaccinated should not be allowed into these high-risk areas. For their own protection.”

A similar plan is being considered in Vienna for bars and restaurants, although this appears not to have federal support. 

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

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who needs to approve the proposal in order for it to be passed, has previously said that lockdown measures should only apply to the unvaccinated in the future. 

“For the vaccinated, the pandemic is over” Kurz said in July

If the proposal is approved, it will be implemented in October ahead of the coming ski season. 

Another part of the plan is to require masks indoors across the country. 

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EXPLAINED: How Austria’s compulsory vaccine mandate could be back in June

The much-debated policy sparked controversy since before it was approved in February, meaning that May could be a definitive month in the country.

EXPLAINED: How Austria's compulsory vaccine mandate could be back in June

Austria’s Federal Government has a ticking time bomb on its hands: an ordinance that suspended its vaccine mandate law is set to expire by the end of May, which means that the controversial mandatory vaccination would be again in place as early as June 1st.

In order to keep that from happening, Austria’s Health Ministry needs to extend the current regulation or create a new one.

If it doesn’t, the Covid-19 mandatory vaccination law would automatically be back in June.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s plans to bring back the vaccine mandate?

Since, by June, the vaccine mandate stated that non-vaccinated would start getting fines, the resumption of the law would mean that, from next month, those who are not vaccinated could be fined in routine checks, such as traffic checks.

The ins and outs of the vaccine mandate

The law was first introduced in February, even though the technical requirements for it to be enacted were not in place. The first stage of it was purely “informational”, and Austrian residents received letters explaining about vaccines and about the regulation.

A second stage, when people could have been fined if they were not vaccinated, was set to start in mid-March. Before a single person was fined, though, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) suspended the law with an ordinance.

The law was suspended for a variety of reasons, primarily due to the relatively high vaccination coverage the country had already received, along with the lower virulence of the Omicron variant. 

READ ALSO: Austria to scrap mandatory Covid vaccinations

To create a new regulation or extend the existing one stopping people from being fined, Rauch must await the report of the vaccination commission, which should be ready in May, according to the Ministry.

The coronavirus commission will assess whether the Vaccination Act is suitable and useful from a medical and legal point of view. A previous report said there were arguments for and against mandatory vaccination for those who were completely unvaccinated.

READ ALSO: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

Der Standard reports there is little political support for compulsory vaccination and says there are still technical problems regarding automated fines. However, according to the Ministry of Health, the infrastructure should be completed in June.