From April 1st, residents in Austria will be entitled to five PCR and five antigen tests per month in a departure from the unlimited free tests that are currently available.
Covid-19 tests will also be available for symptomatic cases and those in at-risk settings, such as in schools and hospitals.
During the announcement, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) confirmed that people can only submit five free tests per month, which means people can’t use unused tests from someone else.
Additionally, from March 21st, close contacts of a positive case will no longer have to quarantine completely and will be able to go to work or shopping while wearing a mask, but not to restaurants or events.
Mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig of the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) has already criticised the move and said there might be stricter rules in Vienna.
Was das bedeutet mit den 5 Tests in den Bundesländern kann ich nicht beurteilen, aber in Wien ist es eine deutliche Reduktion, um das Virus zu beobachten. Von daher hoffe ich, dass der Bund uns rechtzeitig unter diesen Voraussetzungen vor einer nächsten Welle warnt. #PCR /1
— Michael Ludwig (@BgmLudwig) March 15, 2022
Ludwig said: “We in @Stadt_Wien were not spoken to about this. Although the test regime in Vienna has continuously provided valuable insights into the development and containment of the pandemic.”
Der Standard reports that Rauch was in favour of retaining some element of free testing in Austria.
This followed comments by Finance Minister Magnus Brunner of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) who recently said Covid-19 tests should no longer be free in Austria due to the high cost.
Widespread free testing has long been the cornerstone of Austria’s Covid strategy, with one of the world’s most extensive testing schemes.
So far, Austria has spent €3 billion on Covid-19 tests since the start of the pandemic.