Covid rules: mask requirements remain in place for Austrian schools

Despite the reopening steps over the weekend, the mask rules at schools and universities will remain mostly in place in Austria.

children wearing masks
Masks will continue to be mandatory in Austrian schools despite reopening steps (Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)

When schools and university classes resume after the Easter break, students and teachers will go back to a familiar setting in more than one way. Austria has decided to keep the mask requirements in education for the time being, according to the Ministry of Education.

Students must have a surgical mask (known in Austria as MNS) outside of classrooms and group rooms in school, up to the 8th school level. From the 9th school level, there is an FFP2 mask requirement.

Vaccinated or recovered teachers wear masks throughout the school building, but not in classrooms and group rooms. Teachers who have not been vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19 have to wear masks in the classrooms.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: The latest coronavirus restrictions in Austria

Testing schemes

The frequent Covid-19 tests in schools are also changing, according to the Ministry of Education.

There is a mandatory weekly PCR test, down from the twice-a-week requirement, and antigen tests should be available in some instances, such as when there are positive cases of Covid in the class.

READ ALSO: Austria to discontinue ‘Ninja’ test booklet after Easter break

How about the universities?

Things can get more confusing in higher education since each university regulates its own corona requirements.

Most universities will keep an FFP2 mask requirement for the time being, at least in common areas, Vienna.AT reported.

Austria’s mask mandate

Last week, Austria had removed most of the coronavirus restrictions, including mandatory masks in most – but not all – indoor places.

As masks will continue to be used in schools and universities of the alpine country, they are also mandatory in enclosed spaces of hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport, taxis, and customer areas of vital trade, including supermarkets.

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

At the same time, the Austrian government announced an end to the so-called 3G rule. People will no longer have to present proof that they have been vaccinated, recently recovered or tested negative to enter most places – including Viennese bars and restaurants, where the even stricter 2G rules (vaccinated or recovered) were in place.

3G rules still apply to visitors, employees, and service providers in hospitals and care homes. Some universities will also keep the rules at least until the end of the month.

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

COVID numbers keep going down

Austria has seen a substantial decline in the number of new coronavirus infections.

According to the Ministry of Health, just over 7,000 new cases were recorded on April 17th. There were 1,885 people in hospitals with Covid-19, 99 fewer than the day before, and 161 people in intensive care units.

In Austria, 16,420 people have died from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

The country has just under 70 per cent of its population fully vaccinated, meaning they have two doses of an approved vaccine within validity.

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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.