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COVID-19 HEALTH PASS

NEW: Austria brings in new Covid-19 measures as patient numbers rise

New pandemic rules for Austria came into force on Wednesday. Here's what you need to know.

Wearing FFP2 masks will now also be compulsory in stores and on public transport. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)
Wearing FFP2 masks will now also be compulsory in stores and on public transport. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Austria is currently considered to be at level one in terms of its ICU capacity. This level is defined as 200 intensive care beds currently being used for Covid-19 patients, which was reached on Tuesday. The changes mean that from Wednesday, September 15th: 

  • Antigen tests are only valid for 24 hours instead of 48 hours after the test was taken (this does not affect schoolchildren with a Ninja pass or people coming into Austria from another country).
  • Hospital grade FFP2 masks must be worn instead of normal facemarks in essential retail shops and on public transport.
  • For those who have not been vaccinated, wearing an FFP2 mask is also mandatory in non-essential retail and in cultural institutions.
  • Cultural institutions with an FFP2 mask requirement for unvaccinated people include: museums, art halls, libraries and archives. At concerts, in the theatre and cinema, however, the FFP2 mask requirement does not apply to unvaccinated persons with valid 3G proof. The exception is Vienna, where masks covering the mouth and nose must be worn by all visitors in all cultural institutions.
  • Proof of vaccination, negative test or recovery from Covid-19 (the 3G rule) is required for events and gatherings of 25 people or more.

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Commuters will have to get used to wearing FFP2 masks again on public transport. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

The new mask requirement in retail has led to criticism from Austrian trade association, who asked Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck about how the regulations would be enforced. The Ministry of Health says it has asked shop owners to post signs, make random checks and provide masks and information material. The police and health authorities are also authorised to make spot checks.

Trade association chairman Rainer Will has criticized this move according to the Wiener Zietung newspaper.

He said there was a “general legal uncertainty”, pointing out according to the Covid-19 Measures Act, shopkeepers could face penalties of up to 3,600 euros if they did not comply with the new regulations.

He also said it was not realistic to ask shopkeepers to query health data. Anita Palkovich, the economic sector secretary of the GPA union responsible for trade, said there was “great anger” among employees about the new rules for the food retail sector, the Der Standard newspaper reports.

People may not need to wear masks at weddings if they show evidence of a negative test, recovery or vaccination.(Photo by DAVID GANNON / AFP)

FFP2 masks needed for church

At Catholic church services, FFP2 masks are again mandatory from Wednesday. There is no minimum distance to be observed, and there are no restrictions on congregational singing. In the case of “celebrations for one-off occasions” such as baptisms, first communions, confirmations and weddings, the mask requirement can be replaced by the 3G rule by agreement.

Excluded from the mask requirement are children up to the age of six and people who, with medical confirmation, cannot wear an MNS (a mask covering the mouth and nose) for health reasons. Pregnant women and children from six to 14 are allowed to wear an MNS  instead of the FFP2 mask, the church said. There is no obligation to wear a mask for church services in the open air.

What could come next if the numbers in intensive care in Austria continue to rise?

If level two is reached, meaning 300 Covid-19 patients are in intensive care beds nationwide, Austria will introduce further measures. The next step would mean only those with a Covid-19 vaccination or proof of recovery could go to night clubs and late night restaurants and cafes (the 2-G rule).

Stage three, at which point antigen tests would no longer be valid, but unvaccinated people with no certificate of recovery would be forced to show PCR tests to access venues, will be implemented if intensive care bed occupancy rises to 400.

Member comments

  1. There are many people living in Austria who are not registered.
    They do not have e-crds.
    How can they get vaccinated?They are afraid of being tracked and deported.
    obviously they do not frequent discos, museums or concert halls.
    They are circulating all around us posing a health issue that needs to be addressed.

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COVID-19 RULES

Austrian court rules certain bans for unvaccinated were ‘unconstitutional’

Austria's constitutional court found that banning unvaccinated people from going to hairdressers or cultural institutions was unconstitutional

Austrian court rules certain bans for unvaccinated were 'unconstitutional'

The Constitutional Court (VfGH) has found a regulation which stopped people from going to hairdressers in the second lockdown for the unvaccinated was unconstitutional and, therefore, illegal.

However, the Court of Justice did confirm it was admissible to distinguish between people with and without 2G evidence (proof they had recovered from or been vaccinated against Covid-19), meaning the lockdown for the unvaccinated was itself legal.

READ ALSO: Four options: These are Austria’s autumn Covid lockdown plans

As there were exceptions to the lockdown, allowing people without vaccinations to leave their homes to “cover the necessary basic needs of daily life”, this should have included trips to the hairdressers as part of these “basic needs” on a long term, the court ruled.

It clarified that the rules were at first supposed to last for 10 days, but as the lockdown got extended several times, lasting a total of 11 weeks, the “basic needs” evolved and should have included hairdresser visits.

According to the Constitutional Court, it was also illegal for the government to ban unvaccinated people from entering cultural institutions in autumn 2021.

In this case, the reason was that people were still allowed to go to church and other places of religion, which the court found was “in violation of equality”.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The Covid rules across Austria from August 2022

The court found the ban on entering sports facilities ordered by the Minister of Health during the first lockdown in March and April 2020 was also unlawful, as there was not sufficient justification, broadcaster ORF reported.

Strict Covid-19 measures

Austria was one of the countries which imposed several lockdown periods during the pandemic, as The Local reported. While some were aimed at the entire population, more recently, only those who didn’t get vaccinated against Covid-19 were prevented from going out of their homes without a justification (such as grocery shopping or emergencies).

The country had also imposed a Covid-19 vaccination mandate, but that was scrapped after new variants of the virus evolved into less severe cases of the disease, the government said.

Currently, there are few coronavirus restrictions in place. You can check out all the measures across Austria here.

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