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Reader question: What happens if I test positive for Covid on holiday in Austria?

Visitors to Austria need to follow the same rules as residents when it comes to coronavirus tests and quarantine.

Chalet accommodation in Upper Austria
If you test positive for Covid-19 while in Austria, you need to start quarantining. Photo: Datingscout/Unsplash

If I am in Austria on holiday and test positive, what happens? Where do I go to quarantine?

If you experience any symptoms consistent with the coronavirus while in Austria, you should contact the health authorities by calling 1450. If you are using a foreign phone, it’s 0043 1 1450 (note the extra 1). They will give you information about arranging a test and other steps you need to follow. It should be possible to get English-language advice from this helpline — there is no separate number for tourists — but if you are struggling, try to speak to your accommodation provider for help.  

Austria has a range of free test possibilities which are also available to tourists, and if you are advised by a medical professional to get tested, it’s always free.

If an antigen test is positive, you need to take a PCR test and self-isolate until you receive your PCR test result. If the PCR test is negative, you can end your quarantine. If your PCR test is positive, you are required to continue to quarantine.

You may also need to take tests without experiencing symptoms, for example if you do not have proof of valid vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 and need a negative test result to access ski resorts, a workplace, or other venues requiring a Covid pass. Again, if an antigen test is positive, you must take a PCR test and self-isolate until you get the result, and if the PCR test is positive, you need to quarantine — even if you still aren’t experiencing any symptoms.

Quarantine lasts for at least ten days from the start of symptoms or the time of the test (if you didn’t have symptoms), but ultimately it’s up to medical authorities to decide on the length. You may need to test negative for the virus in order to be allowed to leave quarantine, and you will usually need to have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

You can quarantine in your own home or residence. You should avoid having contact with other people (by keeping a distance from people you share a household with if it is not possible to stay in completely separate rooms) and this includes not having personal visitors. People you share a household with or have had close personal contact with may also be ordered to quarantine.

For tourists the situation is a bit more complicated, because it might not be possible to self-isolate fully. You should inform your accommodation provider if you are quarantining, so that they can make appropriate arrangements — for example, ensuring that housekeeping staff can work safely, or setting up rules for any shared areas like bathrooms.

The rules for quarantine include making sure you eat and prepare your food separately from anyone in the same household, avoid sharing personal hygiene items like towels, use a separate bathroom from other people if possible, and maintain a good level of personal hygiene (catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue and regularly washing your hands thoroughly).

The only exemption from quarantine is for medical visits. That means you cannot leave to buy food, so you should arrange to have this brought to you by ordering online or asking for help, either from your accommodation provider or by calling 0800 600 600 (open daily from 7am to 7pm) to get help organized by the Red Cross.

You may also need to rethink your plans to return home. You are not allowed to get on a plane, train, or other public transport while undergoing quarantine. If you travelled to Austria in a private car, you may be allowed to leave the country, but this is at the discretion of health authorities.

Because you might need to extend your stay, it is important to get travel insurance that includes Covid-19 coverage.

Got a question about life in Austria? Contact our editorial team at [email protected] and we will do our best to help you.

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‘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.