Austria to lift 3G requirement for workplaces

Workplaces in Austria will soon lift the requirement for employees to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test as the country relaxes its Covid measures.

Austria to lift 3G requirement for workplaces
The change comes as Austria moves towards a re-opening of society with most Covid restrictions lifted. Photo: Arlington Research/Unsplash

The 3G requirement at work has been in place since November 1st and applies to all workplaces where you can’t rule out coming into close contact with others, whether that’s at your desk, at reception or in a kitchen or common area.

Penalties of up to €500 can be issued to employees, and up to €3600 for employers that violate the law.

Labour Minister Martin Kocher confirmed on Wednesday morning that the rule would be lifted in line with what the Chancellor has called Austria’s “spring awakening”.

At the moment, there aren’t many details on whether it will be replaced by any new rules for workplaces. Kocher said that the Ministry of Health would prepare an ordinance specifying the exact rules for workplaces.

It is likely that the change will come into effect from March 5th, when most other rules will be lifted, with nightclubs being re-opened and mask and 2G rules relaxed in most parts of society.

Individual workplaces will still have the right to set their own rules, and several employers in Austria have already made vaccination a requirement for new employees.

The removal of the nationwide 3G workplace rule also raises further questions about whether Austria’s vaccine mandate will be implemented in practice.

Vaccination against Covid-19 became mandatory by law at the start of February, but no fines have been issued and no checks carried out. This was initially scheduled to happen from mid-March, but the planned removal of most societal Covid measures, as well as the more stable situation in the Austrian healthcare sector as compared to early winter when the law was first planned, mean that pressure is increasing on the Health Ministry to reassess the necessity of the mandate.

READ MORE: Will Austria’s vaccine mandate go ahead?

From March 5th, nationwide 2G and 3G requirements (proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test) to enter venues will be removed, as well as the removal of the current midnight curfew for restaurants and a reopening for night clubs.

Proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test will then only be required in what the government called “particularly vulnerable settings” such as hospitals and nursing homes. 

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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.