EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s new Covid rules for winter sports and Christmas markets?

EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s new Covid rules for winter sports and Christmas markets?
A Christmas market in Vienna. Image: JOE KLAMAR / AFP
From vaccine requirements to use of masks, Austria has put in place a range of new restrictions on winter sports ahead of the coming ski season.

On Monday, September 20th, Austria unveiled a new set of rules for the upcoming winter sports season. 

The rules will also apply to Christmas markets. 

The rules will operate in a similar fashion to the broader Covid measures brought in by Austria in mid-September, in that there is scope for the rules to be made tighter if hospital capacity is reduced. 

When handing down the new measures, Austrian Tourism Minister Elizabeth Köstinger said there would be “virtually no restrictions for those who have been vaccinated” and encouraged anyone who wants to take part in winter sports to get the jab. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

What will the rules be? 

Winter sports and Christmas markets will be made ‘3G compliant’. 

The 3G Rule refers to ‘Getestet, Geimpft, Genesen’ (Tested, Vaccinated, Recovered) and describes the three ways someone can provide evidence they are immune to the virus. 

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

Only those who can demonstrate they are in one of those categories can visit Christmas markets, take part in winter sports, take cable cars, or visit bars (including Apres Ski), restaurants and hotels in winter sports areas. 

In addition, FFP2 masks will be required in chairlifts. 

Further measures? 

Stricter measures were also laid out if ICU capacity is further limited, which are targeted mainly at Apres Ski venues. 

If more than 15 percent of capacity is reached for seven successive days, unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed into nightclubs and larger events, i.e. events with more than 500 people without assigned seats. 

Only those who are vaccinated or who have recently recovered from the virus will be allowed to enter. 

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

This means that people cannot enter with proof of a negative test. 

Also, so-called self tests will no longer be accepted as proof of a negative test (in areas where negative tests are still accepted). 

If more than 20 percent of ICU capacity is reached for seven successive days, antigen tests will no longer be valid for bars, restaurants, gyms, hairdressers and other areas where the 3G rule applies, with only those who have been vaccinated, recently recovered or who have taken a negative PCR test allowed to enter.  

Austria’s federal states are free to put in place stricter rules if they deem them necessary. 

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