Austria to relax Covid rules for shopping, restaurants

The Austrian government announced on Saturday that it would end the “2G” entry rules for retail and restaurants while allowing businesses to stay open until midnight.

A closed restaurant in Vienna during a lockdown in 2021.
A closed restaurant in Vienna during a lockdown in 2021. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

The curfew for restaurants and bars will be extended from 10pm until midnight starting on February 5th, while the maximum number of guests at an event will be raised to 50 people on the same day, the Health Ministry confirmed.

A week later, on February 12th, the so-called 2G rules for retail will be removed, meaning that people will no longer need to produce proof of vaccination or recovery at the entrance to shops. Customers will still have to wear FFP2 masks.

Starting on February 19th, Austria will end the 2G rule for the restaurant sector and events, replacing it with a 3G system. Under 3G, people can enter a location by providing proof of vaccination or recovery, or a negative test result.

Under another rule change, the PCR test will only be valid for 48 hours instead of the previous 72 hours.

The softening of the rule has been welcomed by industry representatives.

The Austrian Retail Association said that “everyone will once again be there for everyone.”

SEE ALSO: Covid-19 in Austria – Follow the latest developments as they happen

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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.