Reader question: Can I travel to Austria for tourism after lockdown?

Some parts of Austria will re-open to tourists later this month. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP
With Austria's nationwide lockdown now lifted, several readers have been in touch to ask us if their hoped-for trips can go ahead.

Hi The Local. I have a trip planned to Austria to late December and have been following the news about the lockdown ending. I’m confused. Can I travel there on holiday after December 11th or not?

First, the usual caveats about planning any travel during the pandemic apply: the situation could change fast, and this could be reflected in new rules both for entering the country and domestically.

There are two things you need to think about as a tourist to Austria: the entry rules and domestic rules.

Entry rules

You can enter Austria from most Schengen countries and a handful of other low Covid incidence areas (see the full list here) by showing proof of 2.5G (vaccination, recovery or a recent negative PCR test). For regular commuters travelling to Austria for work or study, as well as people travelling for family reasons or to visit a partner, the 3G rule still applies, meaning they have the option to show an antigen test in order to cross the border.

Travellers from most 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.

For these two categories, tourism is therefore generally allowed, but for those outside the low incidence areas, you need proof of vaccination or recovery to avoid the quarantine.

An entry ban is currently in place for six African countries (Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Lesotho, which means travel from these countries to Austria can only take place in certain conditions, for example if you are an Austrian or EU citizen or resident, or are travelling for essential work or family purposes. Tourism is generally not allowed from these countries, and you need to quarantine for ten days on arrival (though this can be ended after five days with a negative test) as well as filling out a pre-travel clearance form and presenting a negative Covid test.

Domestic rules

Within Austria, it is important to keep updated on both national and regional restrictions.

When Austria’s nationwide lockdown is lifted on December 12th, the full lockdown remains in place for people without proof of 2G (vaccination or recovery), meaning people without this proof cannot travel to Austria on holiday. Many public venues will require proof of 2G or an FFP2 face mask, including hotels, restaurants and markets for example.

Night gastronomy (bars and clubs) remains closed until January, and nationwide there is an 11pm closing time for gastronomy businesses.

And regional restrictions can and will vary beyond this, though regions can only impose rules that are stricter than the national ones, not more lenient. Vorarlberg, Burgenland and Tyrol have said they will follow the national framework with no additional regulations.

Upper Austria will continue to have a lockdown for everyone (regardless of vaccination status) until at least December 17th, after which hotels will be open.

Carinthia, Styria, Salzburg and Lower Austria are opening shops and Christmas markets from December 13th but hotels and gastronomy (restaurants and cafes) only from December 17th, making tourism difficult before this date.

In Vienna, re-opening will also happen step by step, meaning that shops and Christmas markets will re-open from December 13th but hotels and gastronomy (restaurants and cafes) will only be open from December 20th.

Hotels, gastronomy, and Christmas markets will use the 2G rule, and not 2G+ (requiring a negative PCR test as well as proof of vaccination or recovery) as was the case for bars and clubs before the current lockdown.

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