Everything that changes about life in Austria in March 2022
Spring is on the way, and so are several other changes to life in Austria this month.
Most Covid rules will be scrapped
This is the big one: March 5th is the date when almost all of Austria's remaining Covid-19 restrictions will be removed. Here's a summary of the main changes:
- Nightclubs and apres-ski venues will re-open
- The midnight curfew for restaurants will be removed
- FFP2 masks will no longer be required in restaurants, cafes, non-essential retail stores, hairdressers and beauty salons, and cultural venues like museums and galleries. But they will still be recommended
- The curfew and upper limit on event attendees will be lifted
- The 2G and 3G rules will be removed in most places
The main rules that will continue to apply nationwide will be an FFP2 mask mandate in public transport, essential retail (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and post offices) and in hospitals or elderly care homes, as well as a 3G rule for “particularly vulnerable settings” such as hospitals and nursing homes.
And regions have the power to implement their own stricter rules. Vienna for example will retain the 2G rule for restaurants, bars and cafes.
The first fines for violations of the vaccine mandate could be issued
The introductory phase of Austria's new vaccine mandate, during which people who have yet to receive the Covid-19 vaccine were contacted by letter, ends on March 16th. After this date, fines of up to €600 can be issued to people who have not been vaccinated, with police to carry out spot checks.
However, it's also possible that Austria will reassess the vaccine mandate in light of the re-opening plan outlined above as well as the relatively stable situation in the healthcare sector.
New parking permit rules in Vienna
From March 1st, Vienna's parking permit system will be expanded to cover the whole city, basically bringing an end to free parking in the capital.
Short-term parking zones and resident’s parking permits will be brought in to each of Vienna’s districts, meaning that in the entire city, parking a car is only possible with either a resident’s parking permit (Parkpickerl) or a ticket (Parkschein) for the short-term zones.
For residents in districts 1-9, there is no change as these rules were already in place. In the 11th, 13th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd districts it’s the first time that short-term parking zones and resident’s permits are being used. For the remaining districts (10, 12, and districts 14-19), short-term parking already existed but the rules will now be standardised to match the 1st-9th districts, meaning drivers can only park between 9am and 10pm Monday to Friday, for a maximum of two hours, in the short-term parking zones.
Last month of free Covid tests?
Federal funding for Austria's free Covid tests expires at the end of March and the government and GECKO crisis committee have given signals that there will be a change in testing strategy after this.
We don't know exactly what this will look like, but we can expect the new rules to be announced at some point in March.
New app launched to support domestic violence victims
This is part of government efforts to crack down on male violence, for which they have dedicated a significant budget.
The app will allow people to send a silent call to police in emergency situations, which police will then act upon by going to the scene without needing to call the user back.
Get money back when you pay for repairs to electrical items
A nationwide scheme allowing people to get a €200 refund if they pay for repairs of electrical items is meant to launch in March or possibly April nationwide, and was on the National Council's agenda for February 23rd. This will cover large household items like fridges, washing machines, tumble dryers, and coffee machines but also things like computers, mobile phones, electronic toys and garden tools.
Similar schemes have already been rolled out regionally: repair bonus schemes are currently active in Salzburg, Carinthia, Vienna and the City of Graz. They have previously also been offered in the rest of the Styria region as well as Upper Austria and Lower Austria, but those regions have now stopped the bonuses.
We don't yet know exactly how the national scheme will look or how you'll be able to apply, but details should be announced in the last days of February or early March,
Spring is coming
Winter is coming to an end, and the official start of spring comes on March 20th with the spring equinox.
The downside to the end of winter is that you'll lose an hour’s sleep: the 2022 time changeover to Daylight Savings is scheduled for 2am on March 29th. The clock will be moved forward by one hour from 2 to 3am, which means the night will be shorter. The changeover means it will be darker in the morning, but light will last longer in the evening.