How Austria’s Covid rules are changing this week

Here's a reminder of the new Covid rules that came into force this week.

Man wears mask by riverside
FFP2 masks are now required in some outdoor areas. Photo: David Gannon/AFP

From Tuesday January 11th, FFP2 masks must be worn in outdoor spaces where a two-metre distance cannot be maintained, and shops are required to check customers’ proof of 2G (full vaccination or recovery from Covid-19).

FFP2 masks outdoors

People aged over 14 need to wear an FFP2 mask in outdoor places where they cannot maintain a distance of two metres from people from outside their household.

Situations where the two-metre distance is only broken for a short amount of time, for example when passing someone on a pavement, are excluded from the rule. 

It applies for example in queues, at markets or other events, or in crowded areas. Ministers and regional officials have said that police will enforce the rules, with a focus on areas known to experience crowding, but that the focus will be on explaining the rules to people.

The requirement to wear a mask outdoors in these situations is initially in place until January 20th.

Children who have not yet reached their seventh birthday do not need to wear a mask, and children aged between seven and 14 can wear a cloth or surgical mask rather than an FFP2.

Regions will also have the authority to introduce mask mandates in particularly crowded outdoor areas locally. 

Shops to check proof of 2G

Retail businesses will be required to check customers’ 2G proof in order to enforce the lockdown for people without 2G, which remains in place across Austria. This may take place at entrances or at the checkout.

The 2G requirement only applies to non-essential retail, so supermarkets and pharmacies are excluded.

Some shopping centres, including Murpark in Graz and ATRIO in Villach, will introduce 2G service points within the centre where people can have their vaccination certificates checked and receive a stamp allowing them to enter shops.

This rule is initially in place until January 20th.

Other rules

Working from home (where possible) should now be the rule for businesses and not the exception. Proof of 3G is required to enter any workplace where close contact with others cannot be ruled out.

The lockdown for people without proof of 2G has been officially extended until January 20th, with the government planning to continue extending it by ten days at a time (the maximum allowed by law) even after the vaccine mandate is set to come into effect on February 1st.

As well as the new rule mandating FFP2 masks in some outdoor situations, they are required on public transport (including at stops and stations) and in all public indoor spaces, including those which also require 2G.

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) a 10pm closing time applies as well as 2G rules (people without proof of 2G may still pick up food for take-away, and must wear an FFP2 mask).

Food should be consumed while seated only (except if outdoors, when standing dining is allowed), and FFP2 masks are required except while seated (for example when you enter, or when you leave your table to go to the toilet).

Useful links

Current Covid measures in Austria from the Health Ministry

Multilingual information on Covid-19 from the Health Ministry

Covid-19 information from the Austrian Tourist Board

Information on booking your Covid-19 vaccine from Austrian authorities

Information on booking a Covid-19 test from Austrian authorities

24-hour health advice hotline to call if you experience Covid-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tested positive: call 1450 from Austrian phones or +43 1 1450 from foreign phones

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Austrian court rules certain bans for unvaccinated were ‘unconstitutional’

Austria's constitutional court found that banning unvaccinated people from going to hairdressers or cultural institutions was unconstitutional

Austrian court rules certain bans for unvaccinated were 'unconstitutional'

The Constitutional Court (VfGH) has found a regulation which stopped people from going to hairdressers in the second lockdown for the unvaccinated was unconstitutional and, therefore, illegal.

However, the Court of Justice did confirm it was admissible to distinguish between people with and without 2G evidence (proof they had recovered from or been vaccinated against Covid-19), meaning the lockdown for the unvaccinated was itself legal.

READ ALSO: Four options: These are Austria’s autumn Covid lockdown plans

As there were exceptions to the lockdown, allowing people without vaccinations to leave their homes to “cover the necessary basic needs of daily life”, this should have included trips to the hairdressers as part of these “basic needs” on a long term, the court ruled.

It clarified that the rules were at first supposed to last for 10 days, but as the lockdown got extended several times, lasting a total of 11 weeks, the “basic needs” evolved and should have included hairdresser visits.

According to the Constitutional Court, it was also illegal for the government to ban unvaccinated people from entering cultural institutions in autumn 2021.

In this case, the reason was that people were still allowed to go to church and other places of religion, which the court found was “in violation of equality”.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The Covid rules across Austria from August 2022

The court found the ban on entering sports facilities ordered by the Minister of Health during the first lockdown in March and April 2020 was also unlawful, as there was not sufficient justification, broadcaster ORF reported.

Strict Covid-19 measures

Austria was one of the countries which imposed several lockdown periods during the pandemic, as The Local reported. While some were aimed at the entire population, more recently, only those who didn’t get vaccinated against Covid-19 were prevented from going out of their homes without a justification (such as grocery shopping or emergencies).

The country had also imposed a Covid-19 vaccination mandate, but that was scrapped after new variants of the virus evolved into less severe cases of the disease, the government said.

Currently, there are few coronavirus restrictions in place. You can check out all the measures across Austria here.