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COVID-19

Germany to remove Austria from ‘high risk’ list on Christmas Day

In a boost for Austria's winter tourism season, Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has announced that it will scrub neighbouring Austria from its risk list on December 25th.

Snow in Graz
Snow covers the city centre of Graz, Austria, in early December. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/APA | Erwin Scheriau

The decision was announced by the public health authority on Thursday. Along with Austria, Belize, Bosnia, Malaysia and Serbia were removed from the high-risk list

The USA, Spain, Finland, Portugal, Cyprus and Monaco were all upgraded to the ‘high risk’ category. 

Austria had previously been categorised as a ‘high risk’ country, meaning travellers entering Germany from across the border had to fill in a Digital Entry Form and submit proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are the rules for entering Germany this Christmas and New Year?

Unvaccinated people were also required to quarantine for 10 days – or five with a further negative test. 

The change is good news for ski resort and hotel operators in Austria, as the loosened travel rules are likely to give the seasonal economy a much-needed boost.

Welcoming the news, Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger credited the country’s “successful safety measures” and “proven prevention concepts” with convincing its neighbouring country. 

“With about 37 percent of all overnight stays in the winter season, Germany is the largest and most important source market,” she said. “The fact that we were again classified as a high-risk area due to the high infection figures in November was therefore particularly bitter.” 

Amid spiralling Covid infections, Austria enforced a three-week national lockdown in November, which was lifted for vaccinated people on December 12th.

However, with fears growing over the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the lockdown was extended for the unvaccinated on December 21st. 

Meanwhile, Germany has tightened its entry rules slightly in the run up to the festive season.

Since Thursday, all entrants over the age of six must carry proof that they have been vaccinated or have recovered and have also been PCR-tested.

Previously, this only applied to people aged twelve and over.

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COVID-19 ALERT

Travel: What Covid rules are in place when visiting Austria this summer?

From entry rules to local Covid-19 restrictions and the latest data, here is what you need to know before visiting Austria in the summer of 2022.

Travel: What Covid rules are in place when visiting Austria this summer?

Austria is a very popular tourist destination, especially during the summer months, with its pristine lakes and beautiful cities ready to receive thousands of travellers.

However, the pandemic is still not over and many tourists are left with several questions when they decide to visit another country.

Here is what you need to know about the Covid-19 situation, rules, and requirements before visiting the Alpine country.

What are the entry rules?

First of all, what are the rules for entering the country? That’s an easy one: there are currently no Covid-19 restrictions for entering the country.

More specifically: there is no need to show proof that you were recently vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or tested negative for the disease.

You also don’t need to quarantine upon entry or fill in a specific online form.

This could change on short notice, though, in case any variant of concern is found in Europe or further afield. 

Here is the official website where you can find more information in English.

Are there any Covid-19 restrictions?

Austria has lifted most of its coronavirus-related restrictions, and life is almost as it was over two years ago. However, there are still a few rules to keep in mind, especially concerning masks.

There are also some differences when it comes to Vienna and the rest of the country, as Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) chose to stick with the “Viennese way” and keep some restrictions, most notably the mandatory use of masks in public transport.

Currently, masks are no longer mandatory in essential stores or public transport in most of Austria.

READ ALSO: LATEST: These are the Covid rules in Austria and Vienna from June 2022

According to the federal government, there is still an FFP2 mask mandate in “vulnerable” settings. These include hospitals, elderly and care homes, and health services.

Vienna has a few more restrictions when it comes to using of masks. In the capital, they are still mandatory in pharmacies, health care, and public transport (including the stations).

Besides the mandatory FFP2 mask usage in the entire country, Vienna also has a PCR test obligation to visitors. There are no longer visitor restrictions, though.

Self-isolation rules: what if I test positive?

In Vienna, the quarantine after a positive test lasts for ten days. It ends automatically if, during the last 48 hours, the person has shown no symptoms. People can test themselves free after five days if the PCR result is negative or a CT value above 30.

In the rest of Austria, people who tested positive but had a mild course of the disease and showed no symptoms for 48 hours can leave quarantine on the fifth day of isolation.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Austria should do if they test positive for Covid

If they test negative, they are free from restrictions.

Still, if they do not get tested or get a CT value below or equal to 30, they go into “traffic restriction” and need to wear a mask and not visit events or gastronomy for the next five days.

Can I take a free Covid-19 test as a tourist? What about a free vaccination?

Technically, yes. With the tests, it can be a bit more complicated, but we wrote a complete guide on how to get free Covid tests in Austria as a tourist.

READ ALSO: How tourists, visitors (and residents) can get free Covid tests

There are still “test streets” and “test boxes” where you can get tested for free without having an Austrian social insurance number. Remember to carry a picture ID and wear an FFP2 mask in those places, though.

As for vaccination, it is also possible to get a Covid-19 vaccine for free and without Austrian health insurance in the country. You will also need a picture ID and to wear a mask.

What if I get Covid-19 before my trip to Austria?

You are not allowed to enter Austria if you know you have Covid-19 – though there are currently no more checks, this falls largely into personal responsibility.

If you need to cancel your trip due to a positive test result, here is what you need to know about your rights.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I get a refund after cancelling my Austria trip due to Covid?

Airline companies are not required to refund you or allow you to make changes to your flight for free – unless the ticket you purchased entitles you to these rights.

The same is valid for hotel reservations. Most of them, primarily if you have used an online booking platform, will have different fees, and travellers have additional rights. It is essential to understand each tariff and what they entitle you to.

What is the current situation regarding Covid-19 in Austria?

Coronavirus numbers are rising in Austria, with many experts alerting to a Covid-19 wave, as The Local reported.

On Monday, July 4th, Austria reported 7,745 new coronavirus infections after 60,917 PCR tests. There were 929 hospitals with Covid-19 and 51 people in intensive care units. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,798 people have died from the disease in Austria.

Just under 62 percent of the population has all the necessary vaccination doses for a valid “green pass”, according to the Health Ministry.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

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