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

Travellers entering the country no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test, but masks are still mandatory in some places.

LATEST: What are Austria's current Covid-19 rules?

From Monday, May 16th, travellers coming into Austria no longer need to present proof that they have either been vaccinated against Covid-19, have tested negative for the disease, or recently recovered from it.

Previously, the so-called 3G rules were in place for all people coming into Austria, with very few exceptions.

The government over the weekend dropped the requirements just ahead of warmer months, stating that the epidemiological situation no longer justified them.

On Sunday, 15th, Austria reported 3,777 new coronavirus cases after just under 110,000 PCR tests were taken. In total, 807 people are currently hospitalised with the disease, and 62 are in intensive care units. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,303 people have died from Covid-19 in Austria.

Despite dropping the entry requirements, the federal government reiterated that the rules could change, mainly if a variant of concern is found.

READ ALSO: Austria extends Covid regulations as experts warn of autumn resurgence

Domestically, Austria still has a few coronavirus restrictions in place, including an FFP2 mask mandate in some areas.

These are the latest rules you need to be aware of:

FFP2 mask mandate

The obligation to wear an FFP2 mask only applies in enclosed spaces of hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets, and administrative buildings.

The mask mandate is no longer in place for enclosed places like gyms, restaurants and bars, and cultural establishments, but masks are still recommended.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in Austria

Isolation after a positive test

After the fifth day of isolation and at least 48 hours without symptoms, you can end quarantine for mild or asymptomatic cases.

However, there is a “traffic restriction” for another five days, with a mask mandate and no entry permitted in gastronomy venues, health and care homes, and events during this period.

READ ALSO: Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

In order to obtain an early lifting of the restrictions, a free PCR test can be carried out. If the test is negative or with a CT value (short for Cycle Threshold and is the gold standard for detecting Covid-19) above 30, the isolation can be lifted.

If the value is below 30, then you must remain in isolation.

Vienna doesn’t follow the ‘traffic restriction’, so the only way to end the 10-day isolation is with a PCR test (negative or CT value below 30) after two symptom-free days.

You can find more information on federal restrictions on the government website here.

The 3G rule

A 3G rule (proof that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, recently recovered from the disease or has a negative test) is generally only needed for visitors, employees and service providers in hospitals and care homes.

READ ALSO: Ba.4 and Ba.5 Covid variants detected in Austria: What you need to know

In Vienna, on the other hand, the rules are stricter.

Visitors and workers need to have the 3G proof plus a negative PCR test. However, the city has dropped 2G rules for gastronomy and nightclubs – the only places where it was still required to show proof of vaccination or recovery.