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COVID-19

Region by region: What are the current Covid rules in Austria?

For people vaccinated against Covid-19, the nationwide lockdown in Austria is over, but has been replaced by a series of still strict measures, which vary slightly between the nine regions.

cafe in Vienna
There are three different dates for the re-opening of cafes and restaurants, depending on where you are in Austria. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Rules apply to residents and tourists alike, and what is allowed depends on where in Austria you are and on your vaccination status.

National rules

The following rules apply nationwide:

  • Lockdown for people without proof of 2G (full vaccination or recovery from Covid-19, though teenagers in compulsory schooling can use a negative test instead of 2G). This means leaving the home is only possible for people in this group for essential reasons including exercise, buying food or essential supplies, or going to work. On December 24th, 25th, 26th and 31st there is an exemption allowing up to ten people to meet privately without needing proof of 2G.
  • Services requiring close physical contact (sometimes called ‘body-hugging services’ as a direct English translation from the German) including hairdressers and beauty salons can re-open with a 2G requirement and an FFP2 mask requirement.
  • Non-essential retail stores can re-open, again with a 2G rule and FFP2 mask requirement.
  • Hotels can re-open with a 2G rule and FFP2 mask requirement.
  • Night gastronomy (late-night bars, nightclubs and après ski venues) will remain closed until at least January 9th.
  • In other catering venues (restaurants and cafes) an 11pm closing time will apply as well as 2G rules, and some regions are not opening these businesses until later in December. Where these are open, food should be consumed while seated only, and FFP2 masks are required except while seated.
  • Events can go ahead with different guest limits depending on the venue. If there are assigned seats, there is a maximum of 2,000 people at indoor venues and 4,000 people outdoors; without assigned seating that falls to 300 outdoors and just 25 indoors. 
  • There are slightly different rules for markets. For markets with no food sold for consumption, the 2G rule and FFP2 mask requirements apply. For markets where food is sold for consumption and services may be on offer as well as goods (this includes Christmas markets) there is a limit of 300 people, and a 2G rule and FFP2 mask requirement.
  • Working from home is recommended if possible. At the workplace, a 3G rule (proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test) and an FFP2 mask requirement are in place.

Regions are not able to remove any of these national rules, but if they choose to they can decide to impose stricter measures. Here’s an overview of the current regional differences.

Burgenland

National rules apply.

Carinthia

Gastronomy (restaurants and cafes) is set to re-open on December 17th.

Hotels are set to re-open for tourism on December 17th.

Lower Austria

Gastronomy (restaurants and cafes) is set to re-open on December 17th.

Hotels are set to re-open for tourism on December 17th.

Salzburg

Gastronomy (restaurants and cafes) is set to re-open on December 17th.

Hotels are set to re-open for tourism on December 17th.

Styria

Gastronomy (restaurants and cafes) is set to re-open on December 17th.

Hotels are set to re-open for tourism on December 17th.

Tyrol

National rules apply.

Upper Austria

Upper Austria remains in full lockdown for the full population, regardless of vaccination status, until at least December 17th. This means that non-essential retail, services like hairdressers, and events will not open until then.

Vienna

Hotels are set to re-open for tourism on December 20th.

Gastronomy (restaurants and cafes) is set to re-open on December 20th.

Vorarlberg

On the whole, national rules apply, though with slight differences in the catering industry, where there is a limit of ten people per group seated at one table, and for events, where a maximum of 500 people may be allowed at events with assigned seating.

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COVID-19 STATS

UPDATED: Will Austria bring back face mask mandate to battle rising Covid cases?

As the number of Covid-19 infections and related hospitalisations rises in Austria, many are asking for new measures to be adopted, especially a mask mandate.

UPDATED: Will Austria bring back face mask mandate to battle rising Covid cases?

Austria has seen an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations in recent weeks, with 2,428 people currently hospitalised with the disease, including 118 in intensive care (ICU).

One month ago, just 871 people were being treated in hospital with an additional 47 people in ICU.

The Austrian Federal Government has now said they will make a decision on bringing back the mask mandate by October 23rd. Last week, the National Covid Crisis Coordination (GECKO) recommended wearing FFP2 masks.

According to ORF, the mask mandate could return for public indoor spaces, public transport and in the gastronomy sector. The Austrian Trade Association has already rejected the suggestion saying it would be the “last straw” for employees as the industry struggles with staff shortages.

What are the Covid-19 experts predicting for the autumn and winter season?

The latest report from the Covid prognosis consortium in Austria predicts a rise in hospitalisations in October. 

In a “worst case” scenario, as many as 3,428 people who tested positive would need a hospital bed on October 19th, the latest forecast said. A “further significant increase in hospitalisation is to be expected, with the Covid population in the ICU area remaining almost unchanged”, the experts summarised.

READ ALSO: Reader question: When should I get a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Austria?

In comparison, last autumn, the country was on an Austria-wide lockdown and on November 28th, there were 2,767 infected persons hospitalised.

However, the experts said there is a very high proportion of incidental findings among hospitalised patients. Only around 22 percent of those presently hospitalised were admitted with Covid-19 symptoms. In the intensive care unit, this proportion was only 12 percent – most people go to the hospital for other reasons and find they test positive for the coronavirus.

Calls for pandemic-containment measures

Still, the consortium warned about staff shortages in hospitals. “The increased infection pressure is currently also translating into above-average unplanned staff absences”, it wrote.

READ ALSO: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

In view of the situation in the hospitals, experts are calling for the reintroduction of mandatory masks.

Virologist Dorothee von Laer from the Medical University of Innsbruck criticised the government, saying authorities were once again “too late” to take measures.

“We are now at the last push to reintroduce compulsory masks indoors so that the omicron wave from spring is not repeated,” the virologist told Kurier.

“How much longer to watch Covid go through the roof? Winter is still long, and hospitals are getting crowded with decreasing staff and increasing occupancy. Mask up! #CovidIsntOver,” Thomas Czypionka, Head of IHS Health Economics and Health Policy of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), said on Twitter.

Currently, people in Austria only need to wear masks in the health sector area, such as in hospitals and elderly care homes. However, the capital Vienna has stricter rules, imposing a mask mandate on public transport.

Only in a ‘state of emergency’

Speaking to public broadcaster ORF, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) ruled out the immediate introduction of a mask mandate.

He said stricter rules would only be imposed if the situation in hospitals “escalates, becomes threatening, and a state of emergency occurs”.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The Covid rules across Austria

At the same time, he reiterated that the pandemic is not over and that when the government removed the mask mandate, it also announced the rules could be brought back in autumn.

“When the mask requirement was abolished in grocery stores and public transport in the spring, I already said: If it should become necessary again in the autumn, the general mask requirement will be reintroduced there”, he said.

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