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COVID-19 RULES

What are Austria’s current Covid rules and how are they changing?

After Austria announced that most restrictions would be lifted in what the chancellor called a "spring awakening", here's an overview of the Covid restrictions currently in place and how they are set to change.

What are Austria's current Covid rules and how are they changing?
We should find out more about Austria's re-opening plan after a summit this week. Photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP

The rules listed below are the national rules, which are a minimum level. That means individual regions can choose to implement their own stricter versions. Where these are already known, we have included regional variations.

Dining and drinking out

Restaurants and bars are subject to a midnight curfew; apres-ski venues and nightclubs are completely closed.

The 2G rule (proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid is required for entry) is currently required for all food and drink establishments except take-away, and this is currently set to change 

Eating and drinking is only allowed while seated, and FFP2 masks must be worn except while seated at your table, including if you are collecting food for take-away.

From February 19th, the 2G rule will change to 3G (meaning a negative test is possible as an alternative) from February 19th, except in Vienna which will retain the 2G rule. 

From March 5th, nightclubs and apres-ski venues will re-open.

From March 5th, the midnight curfew for restaurants will be removed.

From March 5th, FFP2 masks will no longer be required.

Hotels

The 2G rule currently applies to hotels.

From February 19th, this will change to 3G (meaning a negative test is possible as an alternative), except in Vienna where the 2G rule will stay in place.

Events

Events of over 50 people are only permitted if there is no eating or drinking so that FFP2 masks can be worn at all times.

There is a midnight curfew on events.

From March 5th, the curfew limit and upper limit on attendees will be lifted; consumption of food and drinks will be allowed.

Shopping

For non-essential retail stores, proof of 2G is no longer required. FFP2 masks are compulsory in all retail venues, including non-essential retail as well as supermarkets and pharmacies.

From March 5th, FFP2 masks will only be required in essential retail (eg. supermarkets, pharmacies, post offices and banks). Some regions may choose to keep the mask requirement in non-essential retail; Vienna’s mayor has said this may be the case in the capital.

Hairdressers and beauty salons

In services requiring close physical contact (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) the 3G rule currently applies, meaning a recent negative Covid-19 test result can be shown for entry as an alternative to vaccination or recovery. It is mandatory to wear FFP2 masks in these businesses regardless of your vaccination status.

From March 5th, the FFP2 requirement will be lifted.

Culture

At cultural venues like museums and galleries, there is no longer any entry restriction, but you need to wear an FFP2 mask.

From March 5th, the FFP2 requirement will be lifted.

Work

A 3G requirement is in place for all workplaces where you can’t rule out contact with another person, and a general recommendation to work from home if possible is in place.

Travel

Entry to Austria is basically covered by the 2G+ rule, meaning that you need a full course of a vaccination (two doses, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson) and either a booster dose or a recent negative PCR test. In a few special cases, more lenient rules apply.

From February 22nd, the 3G rule will reply (proof of full vaccination or recent recovery or a negative PCR test).

Useful links

Current Covid measures – Austrian Health Ministry (in German)

FAQ on Covid – Austrian 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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COVID-19 ALERT

Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

As Covid-19 infection numbers continue rising, Austria's government doesn't rule out a comeback of the mask requirement.

Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Austria has seen rising Covid-19 numbers for weeks, and the country’s traffic light commission has increased the risk rating of all federal states, with none currently designated as “low risk”.

Virologists and health experts have given many explanations for rising numbers and forecast that new infections, currently at more than 12,000 a day, could reach more than 30,000 in the next few weeks.

Austria’s Covid commission said that the omicron subvariant BA.4/BA.5 is a decisive factor in the increase, as it is considered more infectious. “Additionally, an increased proportion of travel-associated cases has been observed in recent weeks”, the commission stated.

READ ALSO: LATEST: These are the Covid rules in Austria and Vienna from June 2022

Dorothee von Laer, a Med-Uni Innsbruck virologist, told Der Standard that the new subvariant could be responsible for a new wave as “the protection we have from BA1 infections, and from vaccinations, is not so good against BA.4/BA.5”.

“So people who were infected early on, or who are only vaccinated, have of course some protection against hospitalisation, but almost no or very little protection against infection”, she said.

Von Laer mentioned other factors that likely contributed to the increasing numbers, including the fact that people have stopped wearing masks after the requirement was dropped in most of Austria.

Are masks about to make a comeback?

When Austria’s federal government announced they would drop the Covid mask mandate, they phrased it as a “pause” to the FFP2 masks, which were still mandatory in essential trade and public transport.

Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said that the mask requirement will be “paused”, as the pandemic is not over yet, and that people should be prepared for a resumption of the rules after summer, as The Local reported.

BACKGROUND: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

Many experts believe FFP2 masks won’t be optional for long if numbers continue rising. Von Laer said, “we will probably have to resort to the mask again, even if the hospitals are not overcrowded because we want to protect the vulnerable people”.

The health minister had already stated that it is time people “take personal responsibility” so that they choose to wear masks in crowds or when close to vulnerable people.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

However, he recently added that if the situation “goes in the direction of overloading the health system, then, of course, I am also obliged to react”.

The minister also said he reassesses the situation every week, observing developments in other countries.

‘We will have to learn’

For Rauch, people will need to learn to live with the masks, as future waves can also be expected in the coming years. He added that we would have to learn to take personal responsibility, make self-assessments, and have solidarity.

READ ALSO: Austria sees scores of flight cancellations after airline staff contact Covid

He also assumes more flexible measures in the future. For example, public transport signs will ask for the mask mandate during morning traffic hours, but not on empty evening trains.

His goal, the minister stated, was to find a middle ground between demanding as few restrictions as possible and exercising caution.

Covid-19 stats

Austria on Wednesday reported 12,509 new coronavirus infections after 169,948 PCR tests, according to the Health Ministry.

There were 856 people in hospitals with Covid-19 and 47 in intensive care. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,779 people have died from the disease.

The country has just over 61 percent of its population with a valid vaccination pass.

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