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Wristbands, fences and 3G: How will Christmas markets look this year in Austria?

Christmas markets across Austria are set to go ahead this year, although exactly how things will look has been a bit up in the air. Here’s what you need to know.

People walk during the twilight at Vienna's famous shopping Mariahilfer street decorated with Christmas lights on December 18, 2019 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
People walk during the twilight at Vienna's famous shopping Mariahilfer street decorated with Christmas lights on December 18, 2019 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

As it stands, the finalised regulation is still yet to be passed. However, as at October 26th, most of the important details have already been laid out. 

The following relies on hospitalisations and in particular ICU capacity staying relatively stable. 

As per the government’s new five-level Covid rules, measures can be tightened if ICU capacity dwindles. 

A spokesperson from the Vienna mayoral office told news outlet Kurier on Monday, October 26th, that they were hoping for the best. 

“We are assuming that the Advent markets will take place,” a spokesperson said. 

More information about this is available at the following link. 

UPDATED: What is Austria’s new 5-stage Covid restrictions plan?

Christmas markets all across Austria must be 3G compliant

Christmas markets are set to go ahead across the country, with a requirement for proof of 3G (vaccination, recovery from Covid-19, or a negative test) compliance in order to enter.

This is the case even though Christmas markets largely take place in outdoor areas. 

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

Christmas markets will open up in several locations on November 12th, including the Weihnachtstraum at the Vienna Rathaus, the Weihnachtsdorf at the Alten AKH university campus, along with the markets at Stephansplatz and Spittelberg. 

The Türkenschanzpark will open on November 13th, the Weihnachtsdorf on Maria-Theresien-Platz on the 17th, and the Weihnachtsdorf at Belvedere Palace on November 19th. 

Both the Altwiener Christkindlmarkt auf der Freyung and the Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Schönbrunn will open up on the 20th of November. 

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. 

How will this be enforced? 

By Christmas time, Austria will have had six months to get used to the 3G Rule and how it works. 

But while this is relatively easy to enforce in bars, restaurants and at other events and venues, the historic nature of Christmas markets can make things a little more difficult. 

The majority of Christmas markets may be fenced in order to ensure that everyone inside is in compliance with the 3G Rule, with a person’s 3G credentials checked upon entry. 

The government however is aware that fencing or other forms of barriers are difficult or impossible elsewhere, for instance in Graz, where the entire old town would need to be fenced off. 

In this case, markets will use a ‘wristband’ system, where people will need to visit a number of points to get a wristband showing that they are 3G compliant. 

From there, random checks will be carried out to ensure that all in attendance are compliant. 

Those in attendance who are not properly complying with the 3G Rule face on the spot fines. 

READ MORE: Austria to introduce on-the-spot fines for breaching 3G rule

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Austrian Airlines expands flight connections to Berlin ahead of winter

Austrian Airlines announced on Friday it would launch new weekly flights to Berlin, including a Berlin-Innsbruck route.

Austrian Airlines expands flight connections to Berlin ahead of winter

In the 2023 winter flight schedule, Austrian Airlines (AUA) said it would increase its offers to and from Berlin and include a new Berlin-Innsbruck route with a weekly flight.

From January 28th to February 25th, the company will fly passengers from the German capital to the Tyrolean city on Saturdays, aiming to give winter tourists more connections and travel possibilities. The airline already has routes connecting Innsbruck to Vienna, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stockholm and Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The best websites for cross-Europe train travel

In total, Lufthansa Group airlines will fly to Innsbruck up to 48 times a week during the peak ski season, the AUA parent company said in a press release.

“With this seasonal service, we are giving our flight program to Berlin an upgrade. Our winter sports-savvy passengers will enjoy the convenience of a direct connection to Tyrol.

READ ALSO: Train travel in Austria: 6 ways you can save money

“Austrian Airlines and the Lufthansa Group significantly contribute to strengthening tourist traffic in the region with almost 50 weekly flights to Innsbruck,” says Austrian Airlines CCO Michael Trestl.

The company added that the Vienna-Berlin route would also be expanded with an additional flight on Saturdays around the semester break, the company added. This will benefit not only city tourists travelling to Vienna or Berlin but also numerous transfer passengers who travel via Vienna as a convenient hub for their onward flight.

READ MORE: Five European cities you can reach from Austria in less than five hours by train

Winter routes

Austrian Airlines is not the only company offering more rules for the winter season.

The low-cost company Ryanair announced eight new routes would be included in the program of its flight scheduled from Vienna, as The Local reported.

READ ALSO: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

The new routes are Bremen (Germany), Manchester (England), Copenhagen (Denmark), Helsinki (Finland), Genoa and Venice (Italy), Tuzla (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Sibiu (Romania).