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COVID-19

Can I use a foreign Covid vaccine certificate in Austrian hotels and restaurants?

As of November 1st, Austria's hotels, restaurants, and other parts of society are only for people with proof of a Covid vaccine or recovery. So what does this mean for people who were vaccinated overseas?

Cafe Sperl coffeehouse in Vienna
Access to ski lifts, hotels, restaurants and coffeehouses in Austria now relies on proof of vaccination or recovery. Photo: Rick Govic/Unsplash

If you were vaccinated overseas and are resident in Austria, the simplest option is to get your vaccination added to the Austrian system, so that you can use the Grüner Pass app or print out your QR code.

To do this, you either scan the QR code on your foreign certificate (if it was an EU-issued vaccine) to add it to your account, or you may need to visit a doctor and pay a small fee to have your vaccine added, particularly if the vaccine was issued outside the EU. In the latter case, you’ll need your official proof of vaccination, showing the date and type of vaccine.

Tourists are less likely to be able to access the Austrian Grüner Pass, because this generally requires documents only available to residents, such as a Handy Signatur (a digital ID connected to an Austrian mobile phone number), an e-card or an Austrian citizen card. In Vienna, anyone who has used the city’s Homecare app, for example after taking a PCR test, should now be able to access the app, but this is not always possible for tourists.

Fortunately, in many cases, your foreign proof of vaccination will be sufficient.

The Local asked the Health Ministry what the guidelines were for non-EU Covid passes for the 2G and 3G rules, and asked specifically about the UK’s NHS Covid pass, the US CDC pass, and South Africa’s vaccination certificate, which readers had contacted us with questions about.

A press spokesperson at the ministry responded: “The existing vaccination methods are valid in Austria: a paper vaccination certificate approved by official authorities; vaccination card; e-vaccination pass (gesundheit.gv.at).”

The Local asked if a list was available of which foreign vaccine certificates are considered valid, or which information the certificate should contain.

“An internationally recognised vaccine pass would be for example a WHO vaccine pass, which is also valid in Austria. It should contain complete, clear and comprehensible documentation about the respective vaccinations,” the spokesperson said.

The Austrian National Tourist Office also confirmed to The Local: “As long as the foreign Covid passes are official in their home country and they are written in English or German, they can be used without any problems.”

It’s also important to note that your foreign vaccination proof will need to meet Austria’s criteria for validity to be accepted as 2G, meaning that as of December 6th the most recent dose should be no older than 270 days, and a single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will not be valid after January 3rd 2022 without proof of a booster.

Ultimately, it is the staff at the businesses you visit (such as hotels, restaurants and ski resorts) who have the responsibility for checking your proof of vaccination.

The Local has reached out to members of the international community as well as the British, American and South African embassies in Austria to find out more about how the rule is being applied in practice, and will update this article as we learn more.

“In general, the use of the CDC vaccine certificate has not raised any issues I am aware of,” a press representative from the US Embassy told The Local, and directed any concerned American visitors to the embassy’s page on Covid information.

The British Embassy told us they did not keep data on the use of the NHS Pass in venues in Austria, but directed visitors to the UK government’s travel advice pages, which states that the UK’s proof of vaccination is accepted in Austria, but noted that travellers with a printed PDF proof must ensure it is dated from November 1st so that it can be scanned in Austria.

“Members’ experience when their UK families visit is that generally the NHS Covid pass is accepted. I have not yet had any members report a refusal,” said Linda Wright, administrator of the British in Austria Travel group on Facebook.

If you or a relative experience difficulties having a non-EU vaccination certificate accepted as proof of 3G or 2G in Austria, please contact The Local by emailing [email protected] so that we can follow up with authorities and keep Austria’s foreign residents and visitors informed.

A final point to note is that there is a slight difference in the rules for entering Austria. In this situation, WHO-approved vaccines including Sinopharm are accepted as proof of 3G, but only EMA-approved vaccines are accepted as 2G for the domestic rules, according to the Health Ministry’s guidelines.

For people who have received non-EMA-approved vaccines, Austria says that people can provide both a test showing Covid-19 antibodies and a single dose of an EMA-approved mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) as 2G. Neither an antibody test nor a single dose is normally valid as 2G, but this combination is accepted for people who have received vaccines not approved by the EMA.

Useful links

Please note that the above was correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication based on information provided by Austrian authorities, but does not constitute legal advice. If you are in any doubt about your situation, we recommend contacting authorities directly for clarification.

Rules on entering Austria (Health Ministry – available in German only)

Austria’s current Covid measures (Health Ministry – available in German only)

FAQ on new Covid measures including 2G (Health Ministry – available in German only. See pages 5-7 for the definition of 2G)

The Austrian Tourist Board

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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