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TRAVEL NEWS

Is it possible to travel to Austria during the new Covid lockdown?

With most businesses closed in Austria until at least December 13th, it's safe to say it's not a good time to travel if your journey is non-essential.

People wearing masks at Vienna's airport.
People wearing masks at Vienna's airport. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP

Austria was placed under its fourth nationwide Covid lockdown on November 22nd.

Th restrictions are set to last for at least ten days, after which it will be reviewed but most likely extended to 20 days in total. In the high Covid incidence regions of Salzburg and Upper Austria, it will go on for another week until December 17th. The government has also said that at the moment, the lockdown for unvaccinated people is intended to continue once the general lockdown ends, meaning that access to non-essential services relies on having proof of 2G (full vaccination against Covid or recent recovery from the virus).

This means Austria is closed to tourists, with hotels not allowed to accept guests on holiday or leisure breaks. All non-essential businesses have been ordered to close their doors, which means there is no access to restaurants or bars (other than for take-away food), cultural facilities, events, Christmas markets, or museums.

People who were already on holiday in Austria at the time of the announcement are allowed to finish their pre-booked stay in a hotel.

READ ALSO: What are the fines for breaking lockdown rules?

The lockdown news has also led several airlines to cancel their flights to and from Austria, or to cut down to a reduced schedule.

If you are not travelling for touristic reasons, you may still be able to enter Austria.

Entry to Austria is still possible under current Covid restrictions, which were tightened on Monday November 22nd. This means you can enter the country from most Schengen countries and a handful of other low Covid incidence areas by showing proof of 2.5G (vaccination, recovery or a recent negative PCR test). Regular commuters travelling to Austria for work or study, as well as people travelling for family reasons or to visit a partner, are exempted from this change and 3G still applies, meaning they have the option to show an antigen test in order to cross the border.

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

Travellers from other countries (this includes the US and UK for example) can enter with no need for quarantine if they have proof of vaccination or recovery, but if they enter using a negative Covid test, they must fill out a pre-travel clearance form and go into a ten day quarantine on arrival, which can be ended on the fifth day with a negative test.

If you are legally resident in Austria, you will always be allowed to enter the country.

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

What about after the lockdown?

After the lockdown, if there is no further change to Austria’s travel regulations, it will again be possible to enter Austria as a tourist..

In this case, people travelling from countries on the low-risk list would need to show proof of 2.5G to enter, and travellers from countries not on the low-risk list who used a negative test as their entry proof would need to complete a pre-travel clearance form and quarantine for at least five days.

There are more lenient requirements for people travelling for certain reasons, including for work or urgent family reasons. In these cases, antigen tests are accepted, and they do not need to quarantine even if travelling from countries not on the low-risk list.

Based on the current situation, it is highly likely that Austria’s 2G rules will remain in place after the general lockdown. This means that proof of vaccination or recovery will be required for access to many venues, including restaurants and hotels. 

Useful links

Austrian Foreign Ministry

Austrian National Tourist Office

Travel to Austria: FAQ from Health Ministry

Full text of the current law on entry rules, as of November 23rd

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TRAVEL NEWS

Austrian railway workers set to strike after pay talks fall flat

Austria's railways are set to grind to a halt on Monday due to failed negotiations between unions and rail operators, the country's railway system (ÖBB) said on Sunday.

Austrian railway workers set to strike after pay talks fall flat

Austrian railway workers will hold a one-day strike on Monday after another round of negotiations between unions and railway representatives failed.

The fifth round of negotiations over pay rises for 50,000 employees from 65 different railway operators, including the main national operator ÖBB, had failed to come to a resolution.

Vida, the trade union that represents the workers, has asked for a wage increase of €400 – an average increase of around 12 percent.

In response, Austria’s Chamber of Commerce offered an increase of a 8 percent.

With walkouts set to go ahead, there will be no regional, long-distance or night trains on Monday.

“After more than twelve hours of intensive talks, the [two sides] unfortunately did not manage to come to an agreement,” the ÖBB said in a statement.

Cross-border traffic and night travel could be affected, and the ÖBB also warned of “individual train cancellations” on Sunday evening and even on Tuesday.

Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB, said in a statement: “I cannot understand this strike at all. With an offer of 8.44 percent, the ÖBB has made the highest offer of any sector.”

“This is clearly a malicious strike on the part of the union,” he added.

Vida union negotiator Gerhard Tauchner said that they “are fighting for a sustainable cost of living adjustment… which will give relief to those with lower and middle incomes in particular in the face of skyrocketing prices.”

Austria’s year-on-year inflation rate hit 11 percent in October. 

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