Covid-19: No change for mask rules in schools

The Federal Government has confirmed there will be no changes to the current mask rules in schools - for now.

Covid-19: No change for mask rules in schools
The Federal Government has announced there will be no changes to Austria's current FFP2 mask rules for schools. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Austria’s current FFP2 mask rules for schools will remain unchanged for now, despite calls from some politicians to tighten the mandate.

This was confirmed on Thursday by Minister of Education Martin Polaschek of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) at a press conference in Vienna.

The current rules require students to wear an FFP2 mask when moving around the school but not while sitting in a class. It is similar to the rule applied to other public indoor spaces and gastronomy.

READ MORE: UPDATED: Austria brings back mandatory FFP2 masks indoors as Covid cases soar

Speaking about the rule for schools, Polaschek said: “We will definitely keep this rule until the Easter holidays.”

Governor of Upper Austria Thomas Stelzer (ÖVP), recently called for the mask rule in schools to be tightened due to rising Covid-19 case numbers in schools across the country.

In addition to the mask rule, pupils and teachers are also required to test for Covid-19 three times a week.

What are Austria’s current Covid measures? 

From a nationwide vaccine mandate for every citizen earlier in the year which was subsequently scrapped, Austria has gradually relaxed Covid measures in recent weeks. 

However, the ad hoc manner in which this has taken place, along with the different rules in place in different states, has made this difficult to follow. 

The so-called spring awakening, when most restrictions were lifted, happened on 5th March, with swarms of people visiting nightclubs and parties all over the alpine country.

The midnight curfew for restaurants was also lifted as nightclubs, and apres-ski venues were allowed to reopen. 

The federal government’s are the minimum standard for rules and regulations, and states in Austria are free to adopt stricter measures.

This is the case of Vienna, as often happened during the pandemic, there is a separate set of rules.

Vienna is keeping the 2G rule to gastronomy, though the mask requirement is waived for staff and customers. There is no more curfew, and night gastronomy is allowed to open, but also with a 2G rule.

More information on the Covid measures in place can be found in the following explainer. 

EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s current Covid rules?

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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.