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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 STATS

UPDATED: Will Austria bring back face mask mandate to battle rising Covid cases?

As the number of Covid-19 infections and related hospitalisations rises in Austria, many are asking for new measures to be adopted, especially a mask mandate.

UPDATED: Will Austria bring back face mask mandate to battle rising Covid cases?

Austria has seen an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations in recent weeks, with 2,428 people currently hospitalised with the disease, including 118 in intensive care (ICU).

One month ago, just 871 people were being treated in hospital with an additional 47 people in ICU.

The Austrian Federal Government has now said they will make a decision on bringing back the mask mandate by October 23rd. Last week, the National Covid Crisis Coordination (GECKO) recommended wearing FFP2 masks.

According to ORF, the mask mandate could return for public indoor spaces, public transport and in the gastronomy sector. The Austrian Trade Association has already rejected the suggestion saying it would be the “last straw” for employees as the industry struggles with staff shortages.

What are the Covid-19 experts predicting for the autumn and winter season?

The latest report from the Covid prognosis consortium in Austria predicts a rise in hospitalisations in October. 

In a “worst case” scenario, as many as 3,428 people who tested positive would need a hospital bed on October 19th, the latest forecast said. A “further significant increase in hospitalisation is to be expected, with the Covid population in the ICU area remaining almost unchanged”, the experts summarised.

READ ALSO: Reader question: When should I get a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Austria?

In comparison, last autumn, the country was on an Austria-wide lockdown and on November 28th, there were 2,767 infected persons hospitalised.

However, the experts said there is a very high proportion of incidental findings among hospitalised patients. Only around 22 percent of those presently hospitalised were admitted with Covid-19 symptoms. In the intensive care unit, this proportion was only 12 percent – most people go to the hospital for other reasons and find they test positive for the coronavirus.

Calls for pandemic-containment measures

Still, the consortium warned about staff shortages in hospitals. “The increased infection pressure is currently also translating into above-average unplanned staff absences”, it wrote.

READ ALSO: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

In view of the situation in the hospitals, experts are calling for the reintroduction of mandatory masks.

Virologist Dorothee von Laer from the Medical University of Innsbruck criticised the government, saying authorities were once again “too late” to take measures.

“We are now at the last push to reintroduce compulsory masks indoors so that the omicron wave from spring is not repeated,” the virologist told Kurier.

“How much longer to watch Covid go through the roof? Winter is still long, and hospitals are getting crowded with decreasing staff and increasing occupancy. Mask up! #CovidIsntOver,” Thomas Czypionka, Head of IHS Health Economics and Health Policy of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), said on Twitter.

Currently, people in Austria only need to wear masks in the health sector area, such as in hospitals and elderly care homes. However, the capital Vienna has stricter rules, imposing a mask mandate on public transport.

Only in a ‘state of emergency’

Speaking to public broadcaster ORF, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) ruled out the immediate introduction of a mask mandate.

He said stricter rules would only be imposed if the situation in hospitals “escalates, becomes threatening, and a state of emergency occurs”.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The Covid rules across Austria

At the same time, he reiterated that the pandemic is not over and that when the government removed the mask mandate, it also announced the rules could be brought back in autumn.

“When the mask requirement was abolished in grocery stores and public transport in the spring, I already said: If it should become necessary again in the autumn, the general mask requirement will be reintroduced there”, he said.

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