Austria lockdown: Which businesses are still open?

On November 22nd Austria was placed under a tight Covid lockdown again, but businesses deemed essential are still allowed to stay open. Here's your guide to the rules.

Austria lockdown: Which businesses are still open?
Most non-essential businesses are closed, but many can still offer takeaway food or Click & Collect for other services. Photo: Christof Stache/AFP

The lockdown means that most non-essential businesses need to close. Certain shops are deemed necessary and are allowed to stay open; these include supermarkets, grocery stores, pet food stores, pharmacies and drugstores, banks, post offices, petrol stations, newsagents, and car and bicycle workshops. Non-essential retail stores may still offer Click and Collect services, allowing customers to order online or over the phone and collect goods at the store.

Within the catering industry, restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs have to close but they are allowed to offer take-away and delivery services are also still allowed. This includes alcoholic beverages, though these need to be sold sealed. Food and drinks purchased for take-away cannot be consumed within 50 metres of the business. Catering businesses that are part of another essential service, for example company canteens in workplaces, and restaurants within hospitals or elderly care homes, are an exception to the rule and may remain open, but only for the people resident or working at the site.

READ ALSO: Covid-19 in Austria: Follow the latest developments as they happen

Hotels are closed to tourists, although anyone already in Austria on a tourist visit at the time of the lockdown is allowed to complete their stay. Hotels may also stay open for people travelling on essential business trips or for other reasons if someone urgently needs accommodation.

Services that require close physical contact need to close, including hairdressers, beauty salons and massage salons.

The vast majority of cultural and leisure venues will also be closed for the duration of the lockdown: theatres, cinemas, museums, libraries, public swimming pools, amusement parks, and indoor play areas will all have their doors closed. Drive-in cinemas are one of the only permitted cultural offerings.

Austria’s Christmas markets are closed.

Professional sports events may take place in some situations, but with no spectators allowed.

Other events are banned, although there exceptions for demonstrations, religious events, professional meetings that cannot be postponed or held remotely, and medical or psychological self-help groups.

One change from earlier drafts of the plan is that skiing will remain possible during the lockdown, albeit with a 2G (proof of vaccination or recovery) requirement for cable cars and an FFP2 mask mandate in enclosed gondolas and cable cars.

READ ALSO: How Austria has reacted to the new nationwide lockdown

Most workplaces are not officially closed by law, although home-working is recommended by the government if at all possible to do so and state employees have been sent home. For people still attending the workplace, the 3G rule introduced at the start of November still applies, so they will need to provide proof of vaccination, recovery from Covid-19 or a recent negative test. FFP2 masks are also required at the workplace.

Hospitals and nursing homes of course remain open throughout the lockdown, but with stricter rules on visitors. Any visitor must adhere to the 2G+ rule, meaning they need proof of vaccination or recovery and a recent negative PCR test. There are also limits on visitor numbers: one visitor per patient per week in hospitals and two visitors per resident per day in nursing homes, though for minors and some especially vulnerable people these limits can be increased.

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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.