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VIENNA

‘The pandemic has not been mastered’: Vienna to tighten Covid measures

Vienna has again decided against following the rest of the country in relaxing Covid measures, saying on Thursday stricter measures were warranted and that “the nationwide easing came too early”.

People line up outside the Stadthalle city hall in Vienna, Austria to get tested for Covid. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)
People line up outside the Stadthalle city hall in Vienna, Austria to get tested for Covid. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) said on Thursday that the nation’s capital will continue to take a different path to the federal government. 

Measures will not be relaxed, while several rules in hospitals and nursing homes will be tightened. 

“The pandemic has not been mastered,” Ludwig said at a press conference

Prior to the announcement there had been some suggestions mask rules would be relaxed, however the Vienna government declined to do so

Only one visitor will be allowed per patient, while two visitors will be allowed per day in nursing homes. 

Anyone visiting hospitals or nursing homes must be in compliance with the ‘2G-Plus’ rule, which means they need to be either vaccinated or have recovered from the virus, as well as possessing a negative test. 

Ludwig also indicated he disagreed with the federal government’s change in testing policy, although he said Vienna would not subsidise the costs of the tests. 

“The federal government collects the corresponding taxes for this,” Ludwig said. 

EXPLAINED: Austria’s new Covid-19 testing rules

From April 1st, the number of free Covid-19 tests will be limited to 10 per month for every person living in Austria. 

This is a stark change in Austria’s approach to managing Covid-19 and coincides with an end to full quarantine for close contacts of positive cases from March 21st.

Ludwig said he felt the system would be hard to administer. 

“There are so many unanswered questions that nobody has been able to answer for me yet.

“It’s not yet clear to me on the basis of which computer program or which statistics who then determines who wants to take the fifth or sixth test of the month.”

Vienna has taken a much tighter course when it comes to Covid measures for much of the pandemic.

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TRAVEL NEWS

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.

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