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EXPLAINED: The Covid rules you need to know if you’re skiing in Austria

Half term holidays are coming, and for Austria that means the winter tourism season will be in full swing.

Skiers in Austria
Families and ski enthusiasts are expected to descend on Austrian ski resorts in the next few weeks during half term holidays. (Alex Halada/AFP)

But what are the new rules regarding vaccination, test and recovery you will need to hit the slopes, stay in hotels or go to bars, restaurants and shops during February? And what happens if you are on holiday with your kids? 

The rules for all these activities change a lot during February. Here is our roundup of what you need to know. 

A word of warning. Individual states and venues in Austria may implement new rules at short notice, so it pays to check ahead with your hotel or ski school before planning trips and holidays. The following acts as a general guide.

Until February 19th Austria has the so-called ‘2G’ rule in place (the ‘G’ stands for Geimpfte which means vaccinated and Genesene which means recovered). This means anyone who wants to go to a cafe, bar or use a ski lift has to show a vaccine or recovery certificate.

Until February 12th you even need to show a 2G certificate to go to a shop in Austria, unless you are shopping for essentials in a supermarket or a pharmacy. Late night venues are closed at present, including night-clubs and apres ski venues.

READ MORE: How Austria’s Covid restrictions are changing in February

FFP2 masks must be worn indoors (including in cable cars) and outdoors if you cannot maintain a 2m distance between others. Pregnant women and children aged 6-14 can wear MNS (masks which cover the mouths and nose) instead. Children aged under six years old are exempt from wearing masks. 

What you can do in Austria depends a lot on how many vaccine doses you have had, or if you have proof of recovery from Covid-19.

Fully boosted (three doses)

Life will be easy for tourists aged 12 and over as long as they have had three vaccination doses including the booster jab in the nine months (270 days) before the end of their stay.

As long as you have a valid vaccination certificate such as the digital EU Covid Pass or the NHS Covid Pass you can access ski lifts, hotels, restaurants and cafes without a problem. Austria’s curfew will also move to midnight on Saturday February 5th, giving you longer to relax and enjoy a drink or food after skiing. 

Double vaccinated and recovered 

To prove you have recovered from Covid-19, you can show your EU Covid pass (Grüner Pass in Austria) or the UK’s NHS covid pass. A recovery certificate is valid for 180 days from the date of the first positive test in the infection. If you have been vaccinated twice  in the previous nine months and can show a recovery certificate you should be given the same status as someone who has received their booster.

Vaccinated once and recovered

If you have been vaccinated once and recovered from Covid-19, your certificate will be valid for 180 days.

Double vaccinated with no proof of recovery

If you have only been vaccinated twice and have no proof you have recovered from Covid-19 then your vaccine will only be considered valid for six months after the second dose. There’s an exception for people aged between 12 and 18: in this age group, two doses will be valid for seven months (210 days). 

A word of warning, since January 3rd, the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccination is only valid for 2G proof with a recovery certificate (if you recovered from Covid-19 before you were vaccinated) or a second vaccination. 

There is a vaccine calculator here if you want to check how long your jabs are valid for.

Unvaccinated but recovered from Covid-19

In order to access venues with proof of recovery, visitors must have a medical document proving past infection and showing the date of recovery.

This should appear in the EU Covid Pass (Green (Grüner) Pass in Austria) or the UK’s NHS Covid Pass. A recovery certificate is valid for 180 days from the date of the first positive test proving infection.

Unvaccinated adults

Unvaccinated adults with no proof they have recovered from Covid-19 will be unable to access bars, hotels, restaurants or ski lifts until the rules change on February 19th. On this date most states in Austria will allow unvaccinated people to access these venues with a recent negative Covid-19 test. For adults PCR test results will be valid for 48 hours and antigen tests for 24 hours in restaurants and bars.

However, in Vienna, the restrictions for unvaccinated people will not be lifted at the same time as the rest of Austria.

READ MORE: Vienna to keep tighter Covid measures in place for bars and restaurants

Some venues in Austria may decide to impose their own rules, so always check ahead before making plans.

Rules for children aged 12 and over

The rules depend on how old your children are. Children aged 12 and over (born on or after September 1st 2006) can use a Holiday Ninja Pass which you can find here as 2G proof within Austria. The Ninja Pass records that children have the correct negative PCR or antigen test results to access 2G venues, such as  restaurants, cinemas or cable cars.

Teenagers are required to take at least 2 PCR and one LFT test during a week-long period and record the results in the Holiday Ninja Pass. For teenagers PCR tests are valid for 72 hours, LFT/antigen tests for 48 hours. If a PCR test was shown to enter Austria, this can count towards the first test

There is free Covid-19 testing available in ​​Tirol, Salzburg, Vorarlberg, Carinthia, Styria and Vienna

Rules for children aged under 12

Before their 12th birthday, children are exempt from having to show evidence of being vaccinated, tested, or having recovered from Covid-19 in Austria.

However, rules may vary from state to state (particularly in Vienna where rules are often stricter) and at different venues, so we recommend you check to see if your child needs to provide a negative PCR or antigen test result.

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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.