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How tourists and visitors in Austria can get a free Covid test

Tourists and visitors to Austria are entitled to free Covid testing. Here's what you need to know.

How tourists and visitors in Austria can get a free Covid test
A person waits at a test centre in Vienna. ALEX HALADA / AFP

Austria’s Minister of Tourism and Agriculture Elisabeth Köstinger has pledged to make coronavirus tests free for foreigners and tourists in order to boost the country’s devastated tourism sector.

Testing has become crucially important in Austria, not only as a pre-requisite for most forms of travel but also to take part in certain activities like events, as well as visiting bars and restaurants. 

‘3G Rule’: How to prove you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid in Austria

Köstinger told Austria’s Kleine Zeitung newspaper that the boost Austria would receive from increased tourism would offset the costs of the tests.

Köstinger said that tourists looking to travel this summer might have in the past looked for places that offered free wifi or parking, but in 2021 want to know if coronavirus testing is free.

“It is clear that we have to offer test offers to guests in major tourist centres. This is indispensable for a holiday destination,” said the tourism minister.

It is in the country’s interests “that vacationers come to us”.

“In the past, guests wanted to know whether there was free WiFi or a free parking space.”

Now, the offering of free coronavirus tests “is decisive for the booking” Köstinger explained.

Austria has invested heavily into coronavirus testing and has become one of the continent’s leaders in the process.

Testing is free for Austrian citizens and residents, however up until now it was unclear as to who would cover the cost for foreigners.

Austria’s quarantine requirement was wound back for most arrivals on May 19th. Click here for more information. 

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

As the Easter holidays begin, here's all you need to know in order to get a free Covid test and what to do if it comes back positive.

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

Easter holidays are a big deal in Europe, with many countries having an entire week of days off of school and families travelling all over the continent.

So if you are heading to Austria, here’s what you need to know to enjoy the nice weather without (so many) concerns.

Entry rules to Austria

First things first: are you following the country’s entry rules? Austria has eased restrictions for travellers back in February. People only need to show proof that they are either fully vaccinated against Covid-19, have recently recovered from it or can show a negative Covid-19 test result.

Austria accepts vaccines from several laboratories as proof of vaccination for entry into the territory, including the Chinese Sinovac and Sinopharm.

Travellers who can show the so-called 3G proof don’t need to quarantine or fill in any online forms. Additionally, children under the age of 12 are exempt from the regulations. They do not need to be tested, vaccinated, or recovered.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are Austria’s current entry and Covid rules?

What do I do if I suspect I have Covid-19?

If there is only suspicion, you should get tested. There are several ways to get tested for free in Austria, but if you have symptoms, you should call the Austrian health line on number 1450.

A nurse will be able to assess your symptoms and either classify you as a suspected case or give you further information on how to reach a general practitioner – or even go to a hospital if necessary.

If you are a suspected case, you could be referred to a specific test facility, or someone will be sent to the place where you are staying for a PCR test.

You can check a list of Vienna testing centres here.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: What to do if you test positive in Austria

How can I get tested for free?

Since April 1st, Austria has changed its testing policy, and free Covid-19 tests are no longer unlimited in the country.

People will be entitled to five PCR and five antigen tests a month, though testing as a suspected case does not fall into that limit.

One of the easiest ways to get a free Covid PCR test, especially for people who don’t speak German, is using the Alles Gurgelt offers. For this, you need to sign up to the website, which is also available for Upper Austria.

When you click “jetzt registrieren“, you are taken to the partner company website. There are several languages to pick from, including English, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Portuguese, and Romanian.

When asked for a social security number, you can just enter the digit 0000 together with your date of birth, as instructed by the website.

Tourists can also use test streets and “test boxes”, as you only need to bring a registration confirmation and an official ID and wear an FFP2 mask. The registration is made online, and you can check a box stating that you don’t have an Austrian social security number (Sozialversicherungsnummer).

READ ALSO: Vienna: How tourists, visitors (and residents) can get free Covid tests

What if my test comes back positive?

If you have tested positive for Covid-19, you are required to stay in isolation, which can be done in a hotel room, rented property, or in the house of the people you are staying with. In the latter case, your friends and family staying in the same place as you won’t have to go into quarantine.

If they are fully vaccinated, they are not considered contact persons. However, they should still get tested.

While in isolation, you are not allowed to leave the place you are staying for any other reason than health and safety emergencies.

You need to stay at home quarantined for 10 days. The quarantine can be ended automatically after five days if a PCR test comes back negative or with a CT value above 30 if you don’t have any symptoms for at least 48h.

READ ALSO: Austria: I’ve stashed away Covid tests. Can I use them from April?

Can I return home if I test positive?

Public health officers can decide whether individuals are allowed to travel home. Usually, this is allowed when travelling by private car. Train or plane journeys are not permitted with suspected or confirmed symptoms.

Useful vocabulary

Absonderungsbescheid: A segregation notice obliges a person to isolate himself from other people as much as possible. This is often referred to as quarantine.
Kontaktpersonen: Contact persons are persons who have been in contact (shake hands, conversation,…) with a person who tested positive.
Ansteckung: Infection.
Verdachtsfall: Suspected case.
Testergebnis: Test result.

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