Austria rolls out free PCR tests at pharmacies

Following the news that only vaccinated people and those with a negative PCR test can access night-time gastronomy, PCR tests will now be available for free at pharmacies.

Austria rolls out free PCR tests at pharmacies
Free PCR tests will be made available at pharmacies all over Austria. Photo: INA FASSBENDER / AFP

The announcement was made by the President of the Chamber of Pharmacists, Ulrike Mursch-Edlmayr, in an interview with the APA, who confirmed the roll out of free PCR tests will start nationwide in the coming days.

The tests will be offered by all pharmacies across Austria where antigen tests are currently offered, as well as test stations, and the scheme is starting today in Graz at the exhibition hall.

However, registration online is currently only available for antigen tests until the system has been updated. In the meantime, registration for a free PCR test is required on site at the test station.

EXPLAINED: Can tourists use Austria’s Covid-19 green pass to visit bars and events?

The new ‘2-G’ rule for late night venues like clubs and discos came into effect on Thursday 22nd July in a bid to stem the rising number of coronavirus infections.

Previously, people could access late night venues with proof of recovery from coronavirus or a negative antigen test.

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) has also called for doctors to be able to conduct free PCR tests in order to prevent the Delta variant from spreading further throughout Austria, according to ORF.

How will it work?

For insured people in Austria, booking a free PCR test at a pharmacy will work the same way as the antigen tests.

An appointment will be made, followed by a swab being taken. The results will then be sent out by SMS and email.

The ORF reports that the cost of the free PCR tests will be covered by social security, which will then be financed by the Federal Government.

Mursch-Edlmayr acknowledged the offer of free PCR tests is another expense for the health system but described it as a “necessary service”.

READ MORE: Austria considers mandatory PCR tests for returning travellers

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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.