Austria rolls out new Covid quarantine rules for schools

As students and teachers across Austria settle into the new school year, the quarantine measure for children have been adjusted.

Austria rolls out new Covid quarantine rules for schools

The Covid-19 quarantine rule for school children has been reduced from ten days to five.

Martin Netzer, General Secretary in the Ministry of Education, announced that only those sitting next to a child with a positive test result have to be quarantined with the option to “test yourself free” after five days through a PCR test.

Education Minister Heinz Faßmann had recently campaigned for a shortening of the quarantine period in schools.

The change in the nationwide rules is to ensure a more stable school environment for children to reduce the impact of Covid-19 measures on education.

On Monday, school resumed in Upper Austria, Salzburg, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Carinthia and Styria with an initial three-week safety phase. 

During the safety phase, three tests per week are compulsory, one of which must be a PCR test. Politicians are working on nationwide corona measures for classes.

READ ALSO: A full overview of the new Covid-19 measures for schools can be found here

Already 285 classes in Vienna under quarantine

Last week in Vienna schools returned after the summer break and the Kronen Zeitung reports there are already 285 classes in the city under quarantine measures.

This is despite Education City Councillor Christoph Wiederkehr (NEOS) mandating two compulsory PCR tests each week for staff and students in the capital, in comparison to the once-a-week PCR test rule for the rest of the country.

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

Problems were also reported with the “everything gurgles” Covid-19 testing system after the server for registering the test results was not available on Monday morning (13th September).

‘Discomfort and insecurity’ in Vienna

The Kurier reports that at the start of the school year last week, 32 student representatives from grammar schools in Vienna wrote an open letter to describe the situation in schools.

The letter said there was “discomfort and insecurity” in schools and they expected closures as a result of the current measures.

The group wrote: “Our concerns are skilfully ignored, constant pressure to perform is maintained. The solidarity that we showed towards the elderly at the beginning of the pandemic is now not shown to us.”

The group cited Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and called for compulsory vaccination of kindergarten and elementary school staff to protect students, the purchase of air filters for schools and the return of the FFP2 mask requirement in school buildings.

EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s tighter Covid measures ‘for the unvaccinated’?

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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.