Austria tightens Covid quarantine rules due to Omicron spread

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Vaccinated people previously often did not need to quarantine after contact with a Covid-19 person, but could now face a 14-day quarantine. Photo: Cristian Tarzi/Unsplash
Austria has significantly tightened its rules around quarantine after coming into contact with a Covid-19 positive person, in response to data showing the new Omicron variant is more transmissible.

Under the new rules, anyone who has come into contact with someone who tested positive for the Omicron variant is considered a ‘Category 1’ contact and has to quarantine for 14 days. There is no option to end the quarantine early with a negative PCR test result.

Under previous rules, the quarantine was set at ten days, and could be ended after five with a negative PCR test.

What’s more, for people who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or had recovered from the virus in the past 180 days, the quarantine was not mandatory, and they were considered ‘Category 2’ contacts instead (this level is also applied to ‘lower risk’ contacts, for example if you were on a train with someone who was positive but were not sitting very close to them). Instead, Category 2 people were asked to reduce their social contacts and be extra alert to symptoms.

The previous more lenient quarantine rules continue to apply for people who come into contact with someone who is positive for a different variant of Covid-19. The reason for the change is that the Austrian authorities are awaiting data on what level of protection vaccination and recovery give against the new variant.

READ ALSO: What are the current Covid rules in Austria?

During quarantine, you may not leave your home or place of residence or have anyone enter your home. If that’s not possible, for example if you share accommodation with someone, you need to keep a distance from them as much as possible, such as by staying in different rooms, using bathrooms and kitchens separately and so on.

There is no exception, not even for going to buy food or medicines, so you should either organise this yourself through home delivery or assistance from friends or neighbours, or call the Red Cross on 0800 600 600. Police are authorised to do home checks on those that have been instructed to quarantine, and you could face high fines if you break the quarantine rules.

All nine federal states are implementing these rules, as was confirmed by the Kurier and Die Presse newspapers. At the moment Omicron is not the dominant variant in Austria with only a few confirmed cases and some regions not having reported any.

Austria is not the only country to tighten its quarantine rules in response to Omicron. Switzerland has also made it mandatory for vaccinated people to isolate for ten days after contact or even suspected contact with an Omicron-positive person, while Spain has also imposed a ten-day quarantine rule regardless of vaccination status for people after close contact with those infected with the Omicron, Beta and Gamma variants.

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


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  1. Be thankful. Here in Malta even though we have a 95% vaccination rate, 0.0006% ITU rate, and virtually a zero mortality rate we have to wear masks when we’re outside ALONE and are still under a plethora of restrictions. Hopefully Austria won’t make the same mistake as us and make pointless rules not based on any science.

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