Covid-19: Bavaria warns Austrians against cross-border shopping

Bavarian authorities have urged people in Austria not to go shopping across the border while most of the country has been classed as a risk zone by Germany.

Covid-19: Bavaria warns Austrians against cross-border shopping
Shoppers in Munich in May. Photo: DPA

As Austrians celebrate their National Day on Monday, which is a public holiday throughout the country, there are fears that people will travel and cross the border into Bavaria for non-essential reasons, such as for tourism or shopping purposes.

But Bavarian Health Minister Melanie Huml, of the conservative Christian Social Union, pointed out on Sunday that if people in Austria crossed the border to go shopping they would face quarantine in the southern state – even if they were only visiting for a short time.

“Even though we like to have our Austrian neighbours with us under normal circumstances – cross-border travel for shopping only is not a good idea in the current corona infection situation and is not permitted anyway,” Huml said.

The daily increasing numbers are worrying and contact of any kind should be avoided as far as possible, she added.

The obligation to quarantine for 14 days applies to everyone entering Bavaria from a foreign risk area, Huml emphasised. The quarantine period can be ended after a period of five days at the earliest with a negative coronavirus test.

A shopping trip, no matter how short it is, is no exception, she said. According to the current entry quarantine regulation, anyone who has stayed in a risk area for more than 48 hours and enters Bavaria is obliged to go into quarantine. The Minister underlined: “And this is the case for people living in Austria.”

In Austria, eight out of nine federal states have been classed as risk zones by Germany – only Carinthia is not considered a risk area.

READ ALSO: UK, Switzerland and most of Austria placed on Germany's quarantine list

The 48-hour exception does not apply to people living in Austria

Authorities were keen to point that the so-called '48-hour quarantine exception rule' does not in principle apply to people who live permanently in a risk area and enter Bavaria from there.

According to information from the Health Ministry, the exception applies to Bavarians who were briefly in a risk area (for less than 48 hours) because they work there or were visiting a partner.

Huml said: “I ask everyone to use common sense. This is not the time to travel and meet. We want to avoid the spread of the virus as much as possible.”

Covid-19 is spreading rapidly in Bavaria. On Monday 20 Bavarian cities and districts including the capital Munich exceeded the threshold of 100 new corona infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. According to data from the State Office of Health (LGL), this is nine more municipalities than before the weekend.

Cases are also rising in Austria, where new coronavirus measures have been introduced to try and slow down the spread.

READ ALSO: 'There's a danger of Covid-19 getting out of control': Bavaria orders tougher measures

On Friday October 23rd, a new rule was introduced that means commuters who enters Bavaria from a foreign risk area, including Austria, for professional or educational purposes at least once a week must regularly submit Covid-19 tests to the relevant health authority.

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COMPARED: Which supermarket is best in Austria?

Not all supermarkets in Austria are the same and, depending on your needs, some will be better for you than others. Here’s a useful comparison to help you get started.

COMPARED: Which supermarket is best in Austria?

Like many other European countries, Austria is home to several different supermarket chains – all offering varying levels of affordable products, international foods and local produce.

But if you’re new to the country, or even just evaluating your spending habits, it can be hard to know which supermarket is best for you.

To help you get started, here’s an overview of the most common supermarkets in Austria and what they offer.

READ ALSO: Cost of living: Why glühwein costs more at Vienna Christmas markets this year


The Dutch-owned supermarket chain is the biggest in Austria with more than 1,500 shops across the country. 

Spar has a range of in-store brands, but the most notable are Spar Premium, S-Budget (for price-conscious shoppers) and Spar Free From for lactose and gluten-free products.

Interspar is the hypermarket version of Spar stores, followed by Eurospar that offers a wide selection of food and drink. Then there is Spar Gourmet, which is a “lifestyle supermarket” in Vienna and the surrounding area that stocks high-end items alongside the usual selection of basics.

Also, on a national level, Spar partners with food waste reduction company Too Good To Go. This means users of the Too Good To Go app can pick up food that would otherwise go to waste from Spar, Eurospar and some Interspar stores.

And if you like to get a bargain, you can collect tokens when you shop at Spar to save up to 20 percent off future purchases.


Billa has more than 1,000 stores across Austria and can be found in most towns and cities. It is easy to spot with its bright yellow and red branding and is known for stocking international and regional produce.

In-store own brands include Ja! Naturlich for organic products, Clever for budget prices and Wegenstein for award-winning Austrian wines. 

READ NEXT: Which Austrian cheeses are protected foods and why?

Billa operates the larger Billa Plus stores (formerly known as Merkur) in some locations, as well as an online shop for click and collect orders. Billa Plus offers even more regional products than the regular Billa shops and promises more price reductions as a result.

All stores have a bakery, a meat counter, a fish counter, take away coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Plus, with the jö Bonus Club customers can collect one point for every Euro spent in Billa and Billa Plus, as well as at partner stores such as Libro, Bipa, Pagro Diskont and OMV.

Austrian supermarket Billa, part of the Rewe group. Photo: Creative commons, Von Rewe Group – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA


If you want to reduce how much you spend on food every month, then head to Hofer.

Hofer is basically the German brand Aldi but with a different name for the Austrian market. It sells cheaper, lesser known brands that Aldi is famous for, as well as some fresh Austrian produce. 

Hofer doesn’t have the same perks as other supermarkets like a cafe or a specialised butchers’ counter, but it does have the Backbox in-store bakery and the 100% aus Österreich (100% from Austria) meat range. It also has a range of weekly special offers, which vary from store to store.

But a word of warning: be prepared to pack your bags quickly in Hofer. The check-out assistants don’t mess around and often whizz products through the tills incredibly fast.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: 10 ways to save money on your groceries in Austria


MPreis has more than 250 stores and is one of the main supermarkets in Tyrol. The independent chain works with around 250 regional suppliers and is a proud stockist of Tyrolean meat, cheese and vegetables, as well hundreds of organic products.

The quality of food products in MPreis is high and the stores are pleasant to visit, but prices for most other products can be higher than other stores. The international food section is also often limited, although this has been improving in recent years.

However, the Therese Mölk bakery delivers high-quality bread and baked goods, and the Nature Fair brand ensures customers know where their meat is coming from with a focus on animal welfare. And you can’t beat MPreis for a wide selection of regional products from the Alps. 

Additionally, MPreis has a selection of special offers in the online shop, like household items, children’s games and outdoor gear.


Prosi is an international supermarket specialising in Asian, African and Latin American food – the largest of its type in Austria. Products include spices, rice, drinks, seafood and vegetables, as well as some British products like PG Tips teabags.

The company is based in Vienna on Wimbergergasse in Neubau but also has an online shop with free delivery throughout Austria for orders over €99. 

Other brands in the Prosi group include an Indian restaurant, a cosmetic and hair world, cooking classes, apartments, an exotic festival and a charity to support developing communities around the world.

READ ALSO: How did the Wiener Schnitzel become an Austrian icon?


MaranVEGAN – Austria’s first vegan supermarket – opened on Stumpergasse in Vienna’s sixth district in 2013. The store was set up by a husband and wife team who decided to return to the world of entrepreneurship after realising retirement was too quiet.

Shoppers at MaranVEGAN can choose from over 4,000 products, including fresh fruit and vegetables, drinks and hygiene products. Plus, there is an in-store bistro with a changing weekly menu.

Customers can also take advantage of the MaranVEGAN loyalty card and save two percent on all items.


Unimarkt is a franchised cooperative of supermarkets. There are just 129 Unimarkt stores in Austria, with shops mostly found in Upper Austria, Styria, Salzburg and Lower Austria.

The stores stock the Jeden Tag range for low-cost shopping, Alnatura for organic food and UNIpur for family-friendly Austrian products.

Customers like that Unimarkt is an alternative option to spending money at the big supermarket chains and there is also the PAYBACK loyalty card to collect points.

Last year, Unimarkt was bought by entrepreneur Andreas Haider who plans to go up against market leaders Spar and Billa by expanding the number of Unimarkt stores across the country.

Penny Markt

Penny Markt is a discount German supermarket chain with many locations in the east of Austria, although none in the western states of Tyrol and Vorarlberg.

Customers can sample a variety of in-store brands, such as the cheap and cheerful Penny range, Echt Bio! (organic products) and Ich bin Österreich for regional food. And if you really want to save money then look out for the weekly Supaaa! deals where you can save up to 50 percent.

Additionally, Penny has a new online pre-order service for the in-store Fleischhauer (butcher).

Penny also participates in the jö Bonus Club scheme (like Billa) so you can collect points to spend at Penny or partners stores and save even more money.