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COVID-19 ALERT

UPDATE: What are the fines for not wearing masks on Vienna’s public transport?

Vienna's Wiener Linien said it would step up mask patrols. Here's how much you could be fined if you don't comply.

vienna tram wiener Linien public transport
Vienna has a mask mandate for its public transport (Photo by Wyron A on Unsplash)

Austria has removed almost all of its coronavirus measures and restrictions, at least for the summer months. However, besides steps to protect vulnerable people in settings such as hospitals end elderly homes, there is one important exception: public transport in Vienna. 

Mayor Michael Ludwig decided to follow what has been known as the “Viennese way”, as the city has chosen to keep stricter measures than those followed by the federal government on many occasions throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Will Austria drop quarantine and isolation for positive Covid-19 cases?

In Vienna, people need to wear FFP2 masks on public transport, including buses, trams, subways, trains, station buildings, and platforms.

This creates strange situations, with people commuting in from outside town having to wear masks as they get to city limits.

Who needs to wear masks?

Everyone on public transport, all Wiener Linien buildings (including station buildings), on platforms and in vehicles need to wear an FFP2 mask.

The mask requirement is valid even for those who have been vaccinated.

There are, however, some exceptions.

The obligation to wear an FFP2 mask does not apply to pregnant women. Instead, they can use a close-fitting protective cloth covering the mouth and nose (a surgical mask, for example).

Children under the age of six are also exempt from the mask requirement.

READ ALSO: ‘At the limit: Huge spike in Covid hospitalisations and deaths in Austria

Children aged six to 14 need to wear a mask or close-fitting cloth covering their mouth and nose area, but it doesn’t have to be an FFP2 mask.

Other exceptions include persons who cannon wear mouth-nose protection for health or disability-specific reasons. Anyone who is exempt needs to present a medical certificate from a doctor established in Austria or the EEA, according to the Wiener Linien.

What happens if people do not wear masks?

People caught not wearing a mask will be contacted and informed of the mask requirement by the security service employees with Wiener Linien.

If they still do not comply, they will be excluded from continuing their journey and ultimately may have to pay a €50 fine for violations of the mask requirement.

Are there many people not wearing masks?

Though there are no official numbers released of the amount of people failing to comply with the mask requirement, it seems that the numbers are growing.

READ ALSO: Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

This week, Wiener Linien said it would step up mask patrols on buses, trams, subways and trains to cut down on the number of passengers who have abandoned their FFP2 masks.

“Like you, we are annoyed that some people do not comply with the mask requirement”, the company wrote on its social media.

They added that there were more controls on public transport together with the Viennese police and more announcements and information on info screens.

However, the company also said that they could not control two million passengers “at the same time” and asked people not to pull the emergency buttons in case they saw passengers without masks.

Wiener Linien also reminded passengers that it is “not okay” to take and post pictures of passengers (even if they are not wearing masks).

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HEALTH

Masks against Covid and flu: What’s ahead for Austria this winter

The City of Vienna has confirmed its rule on mandatory masks in public transport stay - and Austrian experts are worried about a 'flu pandemic'. Here's what you need to know ahead of winter.

Masks against Covid and flu: What's ahead for Austria this winter

Austria’s capital Vienna has long kept a pandemic restriction that other states have already dropped: the mandatory use of FFP2 masks in public transport and stations. 

When tourists arrive in Vienna via the international airport, they often take the train or a bus to the city centre and face a strange ritual: at some point during their journey, people are asked to put on their masks – as soon as they cross the city lines, of course.

These rules are not about to change any time soon. Vienna City Health Councillor Peter Hacker (SPÖ) has confirmed to Austrian media that the mask mandate in trams, buses and metros will stay at least until January 15th. They must also be worn in public transport stations, pharmacies and all Vienna health and care institutions.

READ ALSO: Everything foreigners need to know about the Austrian healthcare system

Additionally, people who test positive for coronavirus need to wear an FFP2 mask outside their homes in all enclosed spaces and on public transport at all times. If a minimum distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained outdoors or persons from outside the household are visiting, an FFP2 mask must also be worn here. 

These rules are known as the “Verkehrsbeschränkung” in Austria and are also valid in other provinces.

Adults and children aged 14 and over must wear an FFP2 mask, but children between 6 and 14 years of age and pregnant women may wear mouth-nose protection instead of an FFP2 mask.

Flu pandemic is on its way

Austrian experts have said there would likely be an exceptionally high wave of the flu after hardly any cases were registered in the past two years, Der Standard reported.

READ ALSO: Six things to know about visiting a doctor in Austria

The measures against Covid-19 prevented infections with Sars-CoV-2 and curbed the spread of influenza and other cold viruses.

According to the Center for Virology at MedUni Vienna, only a “slight upward trend” has been observed in influenza throughout Europe so far.

In principle, the influenza vaccination protects against symptomatic infection for four months: “About 80 percent for H1 viruses, about 50 to 60 percent for H3 strains and 60 to 70 percent for B viruses,” said Monika Redlberger-Fritz, a virologist from Med-Uni Vienna.

She added: “But even with vaccine breakthroughs, you are still very well protected against complications, hospitalisations and death.”

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

According to the doctor, it would be desirable for 60 to 65 percent of the population to be vaccinated against Influenza, though. How many flu vaccinations have already been administered throughout Austria is still being determined. 

Unlike the Covid-19 vaccination, the flu vaccination is not organised by the federal government but by the respective provinces, which file a report only after the flu season. A detailed list of the offers in the regions can be found on the Ministry of Social Affairs website.

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