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EXPLAINED: The new rules for entering Austria

Effective May 19th, Austria relaxed its quarantine for almost all arrivals. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules for entering Austria
A sign at the Austrian border. Photo: BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP

PLEASE NOTE: Austria changed the entry rules in mid-June. Please click the following article for more information. 

From Wednesday, May 19th, Austria’s coronavirus quarantine requirement will no longer apply. 

Now, entry from most countries will be unrestricted, other than areas deemed ‘high risk’ or where variants of the virus are prevalent.

It is replaced by a new system which requires proof of vaccination, testing or recovery from the virus. 

In order to enter, you will have to fill out a form.

The rules will change on June 10th, when pre-travel clearance to enter Austria will only be required if you are coming from a high-risk country or one of the states where variants of the coronavirus are prevalent.

People coming into Austria will still be required to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery from the virus.

Here’s what you need to know. 

What are the new rules for entry? 

The new system is based around the EU health agency ECDC’s traffic light system, which differentiates between areas depending on the prevalence of coronavirus infections.

For countries coloured green or orange, entry is unrestricted. 

When a country is coloured red, negative coronavirus tests, proof of vaccination or recovery from the virus are required (known as the 3G Rule – see below). 

Everyone in quarantine will have the possibility of leaving quarantine after the fifth day with a negative test. 

This system therefore resembles that which is in place federally prior to May 19th. 

UPDATED: Everything you need to know about Austria’s quarantine rules

The map as at May 17th is shown below. An up to date copy of the map can be found here at this link. 

What is the 3G Rule? 

Anyone wanting to enter Austria from red or dark red regions will now need to do so pursuant to the so-called ‘3G Rule’. 

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for conspiracy theorists, this has nothing to do with mobile phone networks. 

The 3G Rule refers to ‘Getestet, Geimpft, Genesen’ (Tested, Vaccinated, Recovered) and describes the three ways someone can provide evidence they may enter from a ‘red zone’ country. 

This means they will need to show evidence of vaccination, a negative test or having recently recovered from the virus. 

Are there any exceptions? 

Yes. People who want to visit Austria for family and business reasons will be allowed to enter. 

Children under the age of 10 are exempt from the test obligation

Similarly, cross-border commuters are also allowed to enter, as are people in transit. 

When the rules were announced on May 18th, Germany – which was coloured red at the time – was also announced as an exception. This means people can arrive from Germany without restriction. 

What about the entry form? 

Since January, everyone entering Austria has had to fill out a form to do so. 

This does not change from May 19th, but will no longer be necessary unless you are coming from a high risk country from June 10th. 

More information on the form can be found at the following link. 

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Austria

Does this apply to people from all across the world?

Not exactly. While the quarantine has been relaxed, entry bans for non-EU/EFTA citizens remain. Specifically, entry from Brazil, India, South Africa or United Kingdom, which have been identified as “virus variant” countries, is not permitted. A landing ban is also in place for these countries. 

READ MORE: Austria to reinstate ban on direct flights from UK

The only exceptions are for humanitarian workers, persons who have been summoned by the courts and people traveling to an international organisation on business, provided they can provide evidence of a negative PCR test result.

In effect, except for these groups, entry into Austria is restricted to Austrian citizens, Austrian residents and citizens of European Union and EFTA countries. 

Travel: Who is allowed to enter Austria right now?

Austrian citizens and residents will not be restricted from entry regardless of which countries they have been in for the past ten days, although in most cases they will need to quarantine. 

People transiting through Austria without stopping will also not be restricted from entering. 

Arrivals from a handful of non-European countries will be allowed to enter: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. 

Also, people from Iceland and the Vatican will not be required to quarantine. 

More information on this requirement is available at the following link. 

UPDATED: Which countries are now on Austria’s quarantine list?

Arrivals from almost every non-European country are restricted.

This means that American citizens are not currently allowed to visit Austria, unless of course they hold Austrian or European citizenship and residency. 

LATEST: When will Americans be able to travel to Austria again?

As yet, there is no indication as to when this will change. However, Austria as a EU member will participate in the bloc’s decisions regarding visas and entry. 

Official information from the Austrian government is available here. 

Member comments

  1. We are Americans living in Germany and have residence visas there. If we drive to Austria, we would be turned away because we have American passports, even though we are fully vaccinated and have residence visas in an EU country? Curious if they just mean flying or driving too.

    1. The Austrian rules are totally biased. Entry from the UK is banned. If you look at the statistics you discover:
      New cases per 1 million population
      France 193
      Germany : 53
      Austria 49
      UK 47
      Source worldometers https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries
      Yet Austria lets in people from Germany and France but not UK. A blinkered country if ever there was one.

      1. They fear the Indian variant. I have family in the UK I’d like to see too, but don’t know when it’ll happen again.

        1. They say they fear the Indian Variant , but it is widespread throughout Europe as well so actually they are just biased.

  2. Nearly 200 people ordered to quarantine in German city over fears of Covid Indian variant outbreak
    Coronavirus news live: India variant now in 53 territories

  3. Reply to “c”: Where-as the UK is totally un-biased when it comes to travellers from the EU (Corona tested or not):
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/may/21/uk-like-an-enemy-state-to-eu-nationals-detained-by-border-force
    At least the Austrians just won’t let you in, they don’t detain you, finger print you, take away your luggage and phone, put you in a detention center, mark your passport and/or deport you. Count yourselves lucky eh?

    Question/comment for “Lyssa77”: Why do you think you’ll be unable to enter Austria? I am also a DE resident with a UK passport and would be interested to know if there is a valid reason to deny entery when driving from Germany.

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For members

ECONOMY

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Austria’s lucrative winter season has already been hit by pandemic restrictions for the past two years. But this year there is also record inflation, staff shortages and an energy crisis to deal with.

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria's winter season

The winter season in Austria is a big driver of the country’s economy and has been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions for the past two winters.

But this year the industry faces an even bigger crisis – a combination of rising inflation, concerns over energy supplies, staff shortages and the pandemic (because it’s not over yet).

We took a closer look to find out how these issues could impact the industry and what we could expect from this year’s winter season in Austria.

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Inflation

Winter sports is a big guzzler of energy to operate ski lifts, apres ski venues and snow making machines. 

This means the industry is in a vulnerable position as energy prices rise, with some resort operators already confirming they will have to pass on some costs to customers.

Johann Roth, Managing Director at Präbichl in Styria, said that energy costs at the resort have tripled and admitted he is concerned about the coming winter season.

Roth told the Kronen Zeitung: “Of course we will have to increase the ticket prices, and to an extent that has never been seen in recent years.”

READ MORE: Cost of living: Why are restaurants getting more expensive in Austria?

At Planai ski resort in Schladming, Styria, Director Georg Bliem said they aim to keep the day ticket price under €70, but has also set up an energy task force to find cost-saving measures for this year. 

Suggestions for Planai include narrower slopes, reduced snowmaking capabilities, shorter cable car operating times and even a delayed start to the season.

Electricity costs at Planaibahn (the resort’s ski lift and gondola operator) were already at €3 million before the current energy crisis, according to the Kronen Zeitung.

Then there are hospitality businesses and hotels at ski resorts that are also being hit by rising costs.

As a result, the Kurier reports that room prices in overnight accommodation could increase by a further 15 percent in winter, and many people will no longer be able to afford skiing holidays.

Heating may be an issue in winter as the energy crisis looms (Photo by Achudh Krishna on Unsplash)

Energy

Rising prices are just one element of the energy crisis as there are fears that Austria will not have enough gas for the coming winter season – mostly due to the war in Ukraine.

In March, Austria activated the early warning system – which is the first level of a three-step emergency plan – for the country’s gas supply. If it reaches step three (emergency level), energy control measures will be put in place across the country.

FOR MEMBERS: When will Austria make the €500 anti-inflation payment and how do I get it?

How this would impact ski resorts is unknown, but at the emergency level, households, essential industries and infrastructure would be prioritised for energy.

So far, there is no indication that step two (alert level) will be activated and the European Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory recently confirmed that Austria’s gas storage capacity was 60 percent full

Austria’s goal is to reach 80 percent capacity by November 1st in order to have a safety reserve.

However, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler already appealed to businesses and households in July to start saving energy where possible.

Staff shortages

Ever since Austria (and Europe) started opening up after Covid-19 lockdowns, the hospitality and tourism industries have been struggling to find staff.

In fact, shortly before the start of the summer season in Austria, there were 30,000 open job vacancies in the tourism sector. And the Wiener Zeitung recently reported on how restaurants in Vienna are struggling to keep up with customer demand due to staff shortages. 

READ NEXT: ‘We need immigration’: Austrian minister insists foreign workers are the only solution

The issue is even being discussed in parliament and it has already been made easier for seasonal workers in Austria to access residency through changes to the Red-White-Red card. 

Now, there are expectations of similar staff shortages for the winter season, which could cause further stress for ski resort operators.

Covid-19

Back in July, it was reported that the federal government was working on a Covid-19 contingency plan to get the country through another autumn and winter.

It envisages four scenarios – numbered from the best to the worst case. In the best case scenario, Austrians can live free of any pandemic rules. In the second best scenario, the situation will remain as it is (find out more about Austria’s latest Covid-19 rules here).

In scenario three, if new variants lead to more severe illness, the mask requirement will be expanded and more testing will be carried out.

READ MORE: REVEALED: The Covid-19 measures for the start of the Austrian school year

There could even be night-time curfews, entry tests and restrictions on private meetings. In addition, major events could be stopped from taking place and nightclubs closed.

Scenario four, the worst case scenario, would mean vaccination no longer offered protection and hospitals became overwhelmed, leading to severe restrictions on people’s social lives.

From what we’ve seen over the past two winters, scenarios three and four would likely impact winter sports operations. But to what degree would depend on the severity of the situation.

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