Reader question: What rules do children need to follow for Austria’s Covid pass?

Teenager receives Covid vaccine from nurse
Some countries are only offering under-18s a single dose of the Covid vaccine. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell / Pool / AFP
We've received several questions from readers asking what applies to their children when living in or visiting Austria, particularly around the Covid pass requirement for ski resorts and restaurants.

My teenager has only received one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, following the government advice in our country. Will Austria consider him to be fully vaccinated? If not, can he travel to Austria?

We have received several questions like the one above. There are two sets of rules around vaccination proof: the rules for entering the country and the rules for accessing certain services and locations once in Austria.

In order to enter Austria, everyone over the age of 12 is supposed to show proof of what’s called 3G in Austria: full vaccination against Covid-19, recovery, or a valid negative test, and usually if you do not have proof of vaccination or recovery, you need to quarantine on arrival (even if you have a negative test). Vaccination proof is only considered valid for entry to Austria from 14 days after the second dose, or 21 days after one dose of Johnson & Johnson.

However, children aged between 12 and 18 are able to enter the country without needing to quarantine on arrival even if they are not vaccinated or recovered, as long as they have a negative test result and are accompanied by an adult who does have the necessary proof. You can find out more detail at the link below:

So getting into the country shouldn’t be a problem for teenagers who aren’t fully vaccinated, as long as the adults they travel with meet the entry criteria.

But once you’re in Austria, the 3G rule is used to regulate access to a variety of areas, including hotels, restaurants, ski resorts and Christmas markets, and here it gets trickier.

The 3G criteria are judged on Austrian rules, and it applies from the age of 12 (six in Vienna). This means that a teenager won’t be considered as fully vaccinated if they have only received one dose of a Covid vaccine other than Johnson & Johnson.

This could make things complicated for tourists from the UK or South Africa, for example, where the government recommendations for child vaccinations are different from in Austria, and many teenagers are only able to get one dose.

There are other groups who are affected too.

For example, for the domestic 3G rule only EMA-approved vaccines are considered valid. Others including the Sputnik and Sinopharm vaccines are not currently recognised in Austria for 3G (confusingly, these vaccines are accepted in order to enter the country without quarantine), which complicates travel for tourists from eastern Europe where these jabs were widely used. 

So if your teenager is not considered fully vaccinated under the Austrian rules, they will need to take regular tests to access areas requiring 3G proof.

The good news is that these are offered for free to both tourists and locals in many areas, and you don’t need to quarantine while waiting for your test result. You can’t enter areas requiring 3G without a valid result, so if using the PCR tests which take a longer time to analyse, you’ll need to plan ahead a bit. You will of course need to quarantine if you test positive or if you experience Covid symptoms and are awaiting a test result.

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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