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COVID-19

EXPLAINED: How will Austria’s Covid rules change in November?

A new Covid ordinance coming into effect in November brings changes for the workplace, winter tourism, and face mask rules.

Salzburg and mountains in winter
New rules are on the way for the workplace, winter tourism and face masks. Photo: Marina Ahammer/Unsplash

3G in the workplace

Starting from November 1st, anyone who cannot rule out coming into contact with other people at their workplace will need to show proof of 3G (vaccination, recovery or negative test) in order to enter.

“Compulsory 3G in the workplace is an important step in the fight against the pandemic. It ensures better protection in the place where people have to go every day and spend a large part of their day, and it also creates additional planning and legal security for employers” said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein.

Up until November 14th, ‘transition period’ rules will apply, meaning that if you do not have 3G proof you may still enter but must wear an FFP2 mask. See the article below for further details.

Changes to mask regulations

Employees in hospitals, nursing homes and care homes for the elderly will still need to wear face masks in addition to providing proof of 3G. The same applies to visitors.

But in other workplaces, employees who show proof of 3G will no longer need to wear masks. This means that staff in supermarkets for example will not need to wear them, and the change is made possible by the 3G requirement in workplaces. 

For customers and guests, there is no big change to mask rules. This means FFP2 masks will still be required in supermarkets, pharmacies and on public transport regardless of vaccination status, but not in areas where you need to show proof of 3G. In areas like non-essential retail and museums, either an FFP2 mask of proof of 3G will be required.

Winter tourism rules

Austria’s Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger summarized the ethos behind the regulations as “strict rules, safe winter”. 

Christmas markets are set to go ahead across the country, with a requirement for proof of 3G which will be regulated through random spot checks. This means that the market area will be clearly defined by a fence or tape, with staff checking people’s Covid passes.

Proof of 3G will also be mandatory in cable cars as of November 15th, except in situations where the cable car is being used as a means of public transport, for example by local residents.

Apres-ski venues and ‘night gastronomy’ (evening dining and drinking, such as pubs, clubs and bars) are covered by the same rules. These mean that at a level 1 situation, these can be accessed with proof of 3G; at level 2, rapid antigen self-tests are no longer accepted as 3G; and at level 3, the 2.5G rule applies (proof of vaccination, recovery or a PCR test only, not an antigen test, even if it was carried out by a professional).

Note that individual states have the power to introduce stricter rules at the regional level.

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COVID-19 ALERT

‘The pandemic is not over’: Vienna keeps mask rule in public transport

Austria's capital has decided to keep mandatory FFP2 masks in public transport but is dropping them in supermarkets.

'The pandemic is not over': Vienna keeps mask rule in public transport

Austria’s capital Vienna will still have mandatory usage of FFP2 masks even if the federal government is dropping the requirement in the rest of the country.

It will still be mandatory in Vienna to wear masks when public transport, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and hospitals, SPÖ Mayor Michael Ludwig announced this Tuesday.

People no longer will need to wear masks in supermarkets and other essential trade, though. The decision was taken after a meeting with the city crisis committee and health authorities, according to the mayor.

“The pandemic is not over yet. We will remain on the consistent and safe path”, Ludwig said.

Earlier this Tuesday, Austria’s Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) had announced the country would “pause” mask requirements from June 1st in all but health establishments during the summer months, as reported.

READ ALSO: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

Rauch justified the decision by saying that the coronavirus numbers, both of new infections and of hospitalised people, have significantly dropped and maintained a downwards trend for weeks.

“The number of new infections has fallen, as well as the number of people in hospitals due to Covid-19, for several weeks now. This is good news”, he said.

Since the last major easing step in mid-April, the FFP2 obligation has only been in force in enclosed spaces of hospitals and homes, public transport and taxis, in the customer area of vital trade, in party traffic of administrative authorities and in institutions for the practice of religion outside trade fairs.

However, the federal government sets out the minimum standard for the country, but the different states may adopt stricter measures. Vienna has often kept tougher regulations during the pandemic, including a more extended period when only vaccinated or recovered people were allowed in bars and restaurants.

Vaccination campaign

The Viennese mayor also commented on the suspended vaccine mandate law, stating that vaccination protects and the city would have a “corresponding vaccination campaign soon”.

Ludwig added that he would demand the same from the federal government. “All of this is done to protect the health of the Viennese population”, he said.

Austria this Tuesday reported 2,177 new coronavirus infections after 185,230 PCR tests, according to the Health Ministry. Currently, there are 596 people hospitalised with Covid-19 and 57 in intensive care units.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,607 people have died from Covid-19 in the country.

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