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COVID-19 RULES

The latest coronavirus restrictions in Austria

Austria has removed most of its restrictions, which means residents and visitors will be able to enjoy the Easter holidays with very few measures still in place.

The latest coronavirus restrictions in Austria
After two years of cancellations due to the pandemic, Austrians will be able to celebrate easter in the traditional markets (Photo by Bianca Ackermann on Unsplash)

Note: this article is no longer up to date. Check here for the latest coronavirus restrictions in Austria.

The Austrian government has removed most of the coronavirus restrictions this week, including mandatory masks in many indoor places.

As coronavirus case numbers and hospitalisations decrease, people in Austria will be able to enjoy a relatively ‘normal’ Easter – and with great weather too. According to Austria’s weather institute, the country will see temperatures up to 16 degrees (61 F) on Sunday.

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

Here’s a rundown of the current Covid-19 restrictions in place in Austria.

FFP2 mask mandate

The obligation to wear an FFP2 mask now only applies in enclosed spaces of hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, and customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets and administrative buildings.

The mask mandate has been dropped in enclosed places like gyms, restaurants and bars, and cultural establishments, but masks are still recommended.

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 only needed for visitors, employees and service providers in hospitals and care homes.

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.

Green passport

The period of validity of vaccination certificates for the third dose (booster shot) has been extended to 365 days.

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: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in Austria

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 period is with a PCR test (negative or CT value below 30) after symptom-free two days.

You can find more information on federal restrictions on the government website here.

And there is more information on Vienna measures on Vienna City website.

Editor’s note: A version of this article previously stated that isolation could be lifted if the CT value was below 30. This is incorrect. 

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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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