Austria scraps virus variant list, opening test-free travel to anyone with Covid booster

The new rules apply to people travelling to Austria from all countries, including those from countries currently listed as virus variant areas.

Austria's virus variant list, which currently imposes harsher entry rules on travellers from 14 countries, will be scrapped from Monday. Photo: Claudio Schwarz/Unsplash

As of Monday January 24th, all travellers who have received a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccination (a third dose in most cases, or a second dose if the first dose was the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) will be allowed entry into Austria without requiring a PCR test, and without any quarantine requirement.

The reason for the relaxation of entry restrictions is that the Omicron variant is now dominant in Austria, making it illogical to place extra restrictions on travellers from countries which saw an early spread of this variant.

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules for commuting between Austria and Slovakia?

All 14 countries will be removed from Austria’s virus variant list, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, South Africa and nine other countries in southern Africa. Confusingly, different rules had applied to the European virus variant countries and the African countries, with a landing ban imposed on the latter.

Entry into Austria from a virus variant area was previously only possible either if travellers had both a booster dose and a negative PCR test, or belonged to an exempt category such as Austrian/EU citizens or residents who generally still needed to show proof of 2G (vaccination or recovery). Travellers in those exempt categories usually also needed to quarantine for 14 days if they did not have a booster vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test.

The new entry rules are known as 2G+, which means travellers must be vaccinated or recently recovered from the virus (within the last six months), as well as having proof of either a booster vaccination or negative PCR test.

The 2G+ rule has been in place for the countries not on the virus variant list for some weeks, so for those countries there is no change.

Recovered travellers and those with only two doses of the Covid-19 vaccination must show a negative PCR test (no older than 48 hours at the time of entry into Austria). However, travellers with a booster vaccination certificate or a recent recovery from Covid-19 (in addition to full vaccination) do not need to show proof of a negative PCR test.

The 2G+ entry regulation into Austria is currently set to last until at least the end of February for all countries.

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Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?

The EU has eased recommendations for face masks on flights and in airports, but member states are free to put their own rules in place.

Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?

Since Monday, May 16th, it is no longer mandatory to wear a medical-grade face mask on flights and at airports within the EU.

But Austria will continue with the rule for now, meaning that masks are required on flights to Austria.

The implementation of the EU recommendation is based on the national rules in individual countries. 

For flights, where a destination country has a mask rule in place, then masks must be worn. 

An Austrian Airlines spokesperson told the Kronen Zeitung: “The easing of the mask requirement is an EU recommendation that must be reflected in a national regulation in order to also apply in Austria.” 

The aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC states that if masks are mandatory on public transport at the point of departure or at the destination, then the regulation should also continue on board the aircraft.

According to current Austrian Covid-19 regulations, wearing an FFP2 mask is still required in hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets, and administrative buildings.

READ MORE: LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules

In addition to Austria, masks are still compulsory in some public areas in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy – all key tourism destinations for travellers from Austria.