Reader question: Do I need to be vaccinated to come to Austria?

Many European countries require that tourists, especially those outside of the EU, be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter. With Covid measures being wound back, what are the current rules in Austria?

Reader question: Do I need to be vaccinated to come to Austria?
Having a few documents handy might help during border control checks. Photo: Skitterphoto/Pexels

The European Council proposed a framework for travel from outside the European Union, prioritising vaccinated travellers to promote safe reopening steps.

The decision stated that member states should reopen systematically to those vaccinated with vaccines having completed the World Health Organisation, but left it to the countries themselves to make a final decision on regulations.

Austria has decided on a relatively moderate entry regulation.

As a result, travellers are currently not required to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the country, regardless of the reason for travel or the country they are entering from.

Here are the updated entry restrictions you should be aware of when coming to Austria.

The so-called 3G rule

To enter Austria, travellers need to show proof of vaccination, or proof of recent recovery from a Covid-19 infection, or a negative test result.

READ ALSO: Easter holidays: What to expect if you are coming to Austria

This applies to arrivals from all countries, people of all nationalities and for all reasons for travel. People who cannot show 3G proof will still be allowed in Austria but will need to register online and go into quarantine.

What counts as vaccination proof

For two-dose vaccinations, the proof is valid for 270 days after the second dose, and there need to be at least 14 days between the first and second shot of the vaccine. A booster dose is valid for 270 days after it was taken, and it must have been taken at least 90 days after the second dose.

If a person took a vaccine after recovering from Covid, the proof is valid for 270 days of that dose.

For entry purposes, Austria recognised people vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 22 days of the first dose and 270 days after that.

READ ALSO: Vienna: How tourists, visitors (and residents) can get free Covid tests

BioNtech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Covaxin, Covovax, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Nuvaxovid (Novavax), Sinovac, and Sinopharm are all valid for entering Austria. Mix and match vaccinations are valid, as well, according to the country’s official tourism website.

However, it is essential to note that both the validity period and the single dose of the Johnson&Johnson above only apply when entering Austria. Once inside the country, for purposes of the 2G or 3G rules, two-dose vaccines are only valid for 180 days after the second dose.

A Jannsen vaccine needs to be followed by a second dose.

Also, only EMA-approved vaccines are accepted inside the country, so BioNtech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Nuvaxovid (Novavax) are accepted.

Austria has removed most of its restrictions internally. However, the capital Vienna still requires people to be either vaccinated or recovered if they want to enter bars and restaurants.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What are Vienna’s new Covid measures?

What counts as proof of recovery or test

A medical certificate, including a recovery date, is necessary to prove that you have recently recovered from a Covid-19 infection. You can download a form in English here.

Notification of a positive test, including the NHS email, is not valid as proof of recovery.

If you have not been vaccinated nor recently recovered from Covid, you can still enter Austria, even if you are coming from outside of the European Union. However, you will need to show a negative Covid test.

A PCR test is valid for 72 hours, and an antigen test for 24 hours after the test was administered. The certificates need to be issued by official medical authorities, and self-tests are not accepted.

Who is exempt from these rules?

There are very few exceptions from the Entry regulations, but children under the age of 12 do not need to show 3G proof when entering the country. However, in Vienna, children need to show entry tests from the age of six.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: What rules do children need to follow for Austria’s Covid pass?

What about if I’m only passing through Austria?

You don’t need to show 3G proof or register online when you are making a transit journey without a stopover. If you are driving through Austria, you are allowed to make essential stops, such as to refuel, for example.

However, you might be asked to show proof that you are in transit or that you comply with the regulations of your final destination.

READ MORE: What are The Local Austria’s ‘reader questions’?

Important links
Health Ministry
Recovered form
Entry form (only necessary for those not complying with the 3G rules)
Foreign Affairs Ministry
Vienna City

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Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

As Covid-19 infection numbers continue rising, Austria's government doesn't rule out a comeback of the mask requirement.

Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Austria has seen rising Covid-19 numbers for weeks, and the country’s traffic light commission has increased the risk rating of all federal states, with none currently designated as “low risk”.

Virologists and health experts have given many explanations for rising numbers and forecast that new infections, currently at more than 12,000 a day, could reach more than 30,000 in the next few weeks.

Austria’s Covid commission said that the omicron subvariant BA.4/BA.5 is a decisive factor in the increase, as it is considered more infectious. “Additionally, an increased proportion of travel-associated cases has been observed in recent weeks”, the commission stated.

READ ALSO: LATEST: These are the Covid rules in Austria and Vienna from June 2022

Dorothee von Laer, a Med-Uni Innsbruck virologist, told Der Standard that the new subvariant could be responsible for a new wave as “the protection we have from BA1 infections, and from vaccinations, is not so good against BA.4/BA.5”.

“So people who were infected early on, or who are only vaccinated, have of course some protection against hospitalisation, but almost no or very little protection against infection”, she said.

Von Laer mentioned other factors that likely contributed to the increasing numbers, including the fact that people have stopped wearing masks after the requirement was dropped in most of Austria.

Are masks about to make a comeback?

When Austria’s federal government announced they would drop the Covid mask mandate, they phrased it as a “pause” to the FFP2 masks, which were still mandatory in essential trade and public transport.

Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said that the mask requirement will be “paused”, as the pandemic is not over yet, and that people should be prepared for a resumption of the rules after summer, as The Local reported.

BACKGROUND: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

Many experts believe FFP2 masks won’t be optional for long if numbers continue rising. Von Laer said, “we will probably have to resort to the mask again, even if the hospitals are not overcrowded because we want to protect the vulnerable people”.

The health minister had already stated that it is time people “take personal responsibility” so that they choose to wear masks in crowds or when close to vulnerable people.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

However, he recently added that if the situation “goes in the direction of overloading the health system, then, of course, I am also obliged to react”.

The minister also said he reassesses the situation every week, observing developments in other countries.

‘We will have to learn’

For Rauch, people will need to learn to live with the masks, as future waves can also be expected in the coming years. He added that we would have to learn to take personal responsibility, make self-assessments, and have solidarity.

READ ALSO: Austria sees scores of flight cancellations after airline staff contact Covid

He also assumes more flexible measures in the future. For example, public transport signs will ask for the mask mandate during morning traffic hours, but not on empty evening trains.

His goal, the minister stated, was to find a middle ground between demanding as few restrictions as possible and exercising caution.

Covid-19 stats

Austria on Wednesday reported 12,509 new coronavirus infections after 169,948 PCR tests, according to the Health Ministry.

There were 856 people in hospitals with Covid-19 and 47 in intensive care. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 18,779 people have died from the disease.

The country has just over 61 percent of its population with a valid vaccination pass.