Austria announces new Covid rules for Christmas and New Year

Christmas dinner
Small Christmas and New Year gatherings will be allowed regardless of vaccination status. Photo: krakenimages/Unsplash
Unvaccinated people will be granted an exception to lockdown over Christmas and New Year, while the 11pm early closing time will be lifted on New Year's Eve, the government said on Friday.

The lockdown for unvaccinated people has been extended for another ten days, but the government has introduced an exception on some of the key dates in the Catholic calendar. On December 24th, 25th and 26th as well as on December 31st, up to ten people will be allowed to meet privately without a requirement for 2G proof.

For people with proof of 2G, up to 25 people may meet privately.

Another holiday rule change announced on Friday was that the 11pm curfew for gastronomy will be lifted on December 31st only. 

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said that the three-week lockdown for the Austrian population had eased the Covid situation enough to allow a relaxation of the rules over the festive period, but warned that the situation was still serious.

“We have to make Christmas possible within the family,” he told media.

READ ALSO: How to celebrate Christmas like an Austrian

He urged everyone to “continue to exercise caution”, particularly in light of the spread of the Omicron variant, which scientists believe is significantly more transmissible than previous variants of Covid-19. There are currently 75 confirmed cases of the variant in Austria.

He also appealed to people to get their vaccine before Christmas to boost protection against the virus for themselves and their community, whether this was a first vaccine or a third dose. Third doses are possible from four months after the second dose.

The above changes apply nationally and function as a minimum standard, meaning that Austria’s nine regions may choose to introduce their own stricter rules, but cannot introduce rules that are more lenient than the national ones.


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