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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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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.