Austria to relax international travel rules from March

Austria's government on Wednesday announced a further relaxation to rules on entering the country, in addition to a plan for removing most remaining domestic Covid-19 measures.

Austria to relax international travel rules from March
It will soon be simpler to come to Austria from abroad. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP

At the moment, the basic rule for entry to Austria is 2G+, which means that regardless of which country you travel on, you need proof of either full vaccination against Covid-19 or a recent recovery, as well as either a booster dose or a negative PCR test.

But Austria has now announced the lifting of almost all its Covid restrictions on March 5th, and this will also affect international travel. 

READ ALSO: Austria to remove most Covid restrictions from March 5th

The 2G+ rule will be replaced with a general 3G rule as of February 22nd, according to the government, meaning that travellers need one of the following: proof of full vaccination, proof of recovery, or a negative test.

That opens up travel for unvaccinated travellers and means that people yet to receive a booster no longer need to take a test if they have proof of 2G. This affects children from countries which have only offered one or two doses to children, for example.

The government has said that ‘virus variant’ countries will be subject to stricter rules. At the moment, there are no countries on the virus variant risk list but this could change as new variants of the virus emerge.

In the past, measures for virus variant countries have varied: for example, when Omicron first spread, Austria issued a landing ban for ten African countries and banned travel for those not in an exempt category, but travel from the UK and three other European countries was still permitted for any purpose if travellers could meet the 2G+ requirement, although all countries were on the same list. The virus variant list was scrapped in late January.

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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.