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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Austrian court rules certain bans for unvaccinated were ‘unconstitutional’

Austria's constitutional court found that banning unvaccinated people from going to hairdressers or cultural institutions was unconstitutional

Austrian court rules certain bans for unvaccinated were 'unconstitutional'

The Constitutional Court (VfGH) has found a regulation which stopped people from going to hairdressers in the second lockdown for the unvaccinated was unconstitutional and, therefore, illegal.

However, the Court of Justice did confirm it was admissible to distinguish between people with and without 2G evidence (proof they had recovered from or been vaccinated against Covid-19), meaning the lockdown for the unvaccinated was itself legal.

READ ALSO: Four options: These are Austria’s autumn Covid lockdown plans

As there were exceptions to the lockdown, allowing people without vaccinations to leave their homes to “cover the necessary basic needs of daily life”, this should have included trips to the hairdressers as part of these “basic needs” on a long term, the court ruled.

It clarified that the rules were at first supposed to last for 10 days, but as the lockdown got extended several times, lasting a total of 11 weeks, the “basic needs” evolved and should have included hairdresser visits.

According to the Constitutional Court, it was also illegal for the government to ban unvaccinated people from entering cultural institutions in autumn 2021.

In this case, the reason was that people were still allowed to go to church and other places of religion, which the court found was “in violation of equality”.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The Covid rules across Austria from August 2022

The court found the ban on entering sports facilities ordered by the Minister of Health during the first lockdown in March and April 2020 was also unlawful, as there was not sufficient justification, broadcaster ORF reported.

Strict Covid-19 measures

Austria was one of the countries which imposed several lockdown periods during the pandemic, as The Local reported. While some were aimed at the entire population, more recently, only those who didn’t get vaccinated against Covid-19 were prevented from going out of their homes without a justification (such as grocery shopping or emergencies).

The country had also imposed a Covid-19 vaccination mandate, but that was scrapped after new variants of the virus evolved into less severe cases of the disease, the government said.

Currently, there are few coronavirus restrictions in place. You can check out all the measures across Austria here.