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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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‘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.