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COVID-19 HEALTH PASS

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

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.

EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s new Covid rules for winter sports and Christmas markets?
A Christmas market in Vienna. Image: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

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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COVID-19 VACCINES

Austria recommends Covid booster shot for children aged five and over

The commission also recommends three doses of the vaccine for people who have recovered from the coronavirus disease.

Austria recommends Covid booster shot for children aged five and over

Austria’s National Vaccination Board has recommended that children from the age of five get a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccination, the “booster” dose.

“This third vaccination should take place at the latest at the beginning of the school year ahead of the expected next waves of infection in autumn”, the board said in a press statement.

The third dose is recommended six months after the second shot, the commission added.

Additionally, the updated recommendation given by the government body also clarified that a total of three vaccinations are needed for “the best possible and long-term protection”, even among people who have already been infected with Covid-19.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: The latest coronavirus restrictions in Austria

The commission stated that “from an immunological point of view, these vaccinations are to be regarded as a basic vaccination”. This means that, in the future, the Covi-19 vaccination schedule will consider three doses of an approved vaccine.

According to the board statement, an infection with the coronavirus would only lead to a postponement of the vaccinations but shouldn’t replace any dose.

Austria’s Health Minister Johannes Rauch reinforced the need for vaccination in the country, which currently has fewer than 70 per cent of its population with two doses of the vaccine up to date.

“The corona vaccination has saved the lives of countless people and continues to do so. The ongoing adaptation of recommendations ensures that new scientific findings are constantly incorporated”, Rauch said in a press statement.

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

The new recommendation can be found on Austria’s Health Ministry website. However, the ministry hasn’t specified how the recommendation would affect the Covid-19 passes or the “green pass” validity, especially those held by people who have recovered from the disease.

Covid numbers

Austria this Monday reported 4,111 new coronavirus infections, with 89,861 PCR tests taken in 24 hours. According to the Health Ministry, there are currently 1,492 people hospitalised with the virus (26 fewer than the day before), and 124 people are in intensive care units with Covid.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,054 people have died from the Covid-19.

The alpine country has currently 68.4 per cent of its population with a valid vaccination certificate, and 54.5 per cent of its population has received the third dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

READ ALSO: Austria to keep masks only in ‘essential places’ from April 16th

Austria has recently removed almost all of its coronavirus restrictions, including the need to show a valid vaccination certificate to enter bars and restaurants. The country also dropped its FFP2 mask mandate in all indoor areas except for “essential” places such as public transport, health areas, and supermarkets.

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