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COVID-19 RULES

EXPLAINED: What should I do if my Austrian Green Pass is expiring?

For many people across Austria, the Green Pass will expire in the coming weeks and months. What does this mean and what is the government doing about it?

EXPLAINED: What should I do if my Austrian Green Pass is expiring?
The Green Pass will turn red for thousands of people in Austria in the coming months. What happens next? Photo: JOEL SAGET / AFP

By June it is expected that around 74,000 Covid-19 vaccination and recovery certificates will expire in Austria – even for people that have received the third dose. 

This is in line with current rules that state certificates are only valid for 270 days, after which the Green Pass will turn red and will no longer be valid proof of 3G (tested, vaccinated, recovered).

So, what happens next?

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

On Tuesday evening, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) told ORF that the Austrian federal government is working on an extension of existing certificates, although the details of when and for how long have not yet been confirmed.

Rauch said he hopes to announce further details by the beginning of next week (April 11th) but assured the public that no one will lose their ability to travel due to expiring certificates, as reported by the Kronen Zeitung.

Rauch said: “Things are already prepared, we know the numbers and when [Green] passports will expire.”

According to Kurier, around 800 certificates will expire by the end of April, followed by another 900 in May. By the end of June the figure will rise to around 74,000 people.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said they are “examining all options”.

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

What are the current Green Pass rules?

Certificates of full vaccination (two doses) against Covid-19 are currently valid in Austria for 180 days (or six months) from the date of the second dose. An additional vaccination, or booster, is then valid for 270 days.

Certificates of recovery from Covid-19 are currently valid for 180 days, including for people that have previously received two doses of the vaccination.

A PCR test result is valid for 72 hours and an antigen test from a pharmacy or testing station is valid for 24 hours.

Full details about the Green Pass can be found at the official website

What is the Green Pass used for in Austria?

The Green Pass is used to show proof of 2G (recovered or vaccinated) or 3G in settings where the rules apply.

This includes entry into the country for tourists, citizens and residents, as well entry to high-risk places like hospitals, nursing homes and schools.

However, Vienna is currently still operating under stricter rules and proof of 2G is required to enter cafes, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and indoor sports facilities.

Additionally, the federal government reintroduced the FFP2 mask mandate for public indoor spaces last month but gave businesses the option to implement the mandate or follow 3G rules.

A full report on the current mask rules in Austria can be found here.

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COVID-19 STATS

UPDATED: Will Austria bring back face mask mandate to battle rising Covid cases?

As the number of Covid-19 infections and related hospitalisations rises in Austria, many are asking for new measures to be adopted, especially a mask mandate.

UPDATED: Will Austria bring back face mask mandate to battle rising Covid cases?

Austria has seen an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations in recent weeks, with 2,428 people currently hospitalised with the disease, including 118 in intensive care (ICU).

One month ago, just 871 people were being treated in hospital with an additional 47 people in ICU.

The Austrian Federal Government has now said they will make a decision on bringing back the mask mandate by October 23rd. Last week, the National Covid Crisis Coordination (GECKO) recommended wearing FFP2 masks.

According to ORF, the mask mandate could return for public indoor spaces, public transport and in the gastronomy sector. The Austrian Trade Association has already rejected the suggestion saying it would be the “last straw” for employees as the industry struggles with staff shortages.

What are the Covid-19 experts predicting for the autumn and winter season?

The latest report from the Covid prognosis consortium in Austria predicts a rise in hospitalisations in October. 

In a “worst case” scenario, as many as 3,428 people who tested positive would need a hospital bed on October 19th, the latest forecast said. A “further significant increase in hospitalisation is to be expected, with the Covid population in the ICU area remaining almost unchanged”, the experts summarised.

READ ALSO: Reader question: When should I get a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Austria?

In comparison, last autumn, the country was on an Austria-wide lockdown and on November 28th, there were 2,767 infected persons hospitalised.

However, the experts said there is a very high proportion of incidental findings among hospitalised patients. Only around 22 percent of those presently hospitalised were admitted with Covid-19 symptoms. In the intensive care unit, this proportion was only 12 percent – most people go to the hospital for other reasons and find they test positive for the coronavirus.

Calls for pandemic-containment measures

Still, the consortium warned about staff shortages in hospitals. “The increased infection pressure is currently also translating into above-average unplanned staff absences”, it wrote.

READ ALSO: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

In view of the situation in the hospitals, experts are calling for the reintroduction of mandatory masks.

Virologist Dorothee von Laer from the Medical University of Innsbruck criticised the government, saying authorities were once again “too late” to take measures.

“We are now at the last push to reintroduce compulsory masks indoors so that the omicron wave from spring is not repeated,” the virologist told Kurier.

“How much longer to watch Covid go through the roof? Winter is still long, and hospitals are getting crowded with decreasing staff and increasing occupancy. Mask up! #CovidIsntOver,” Thomas Czypionka, Head of IHS Health Economics and Health Policy of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), said on Twitter.

Currently, people in Austria only need to wear masks in the health sector area, such as in hospitals and elderly care homes. However, the capital Vienna has stricter rules, imposing a mask mandate on public transport.

Only in a ‘state of emergency’

Speaking to public broadcaster ORF, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) ruled out the immediate introduction of a mask mandate.

He said stricter rules would only be imposed if the situation in hospitals “escalates, becomes threatening, and a state of emergency occurs”.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The Covid rules across Austria

At the same time, he reiterated that the pandemic is not over and that when the government removed the mask mandate, it also announced the rules could be brought back in autumn.

“When the mask requirement was abolished in grocery stores and public transport in the spring, I already said: If it should become necessary again in the autumn, the general mask requirement will be reintroduced there”, he said.

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