Austria’s new rules for Covid-19 quarantine and close contacts

Covid test
So you've tested positive for Covid, or been in contact with someone who has. What next? Photo: Alex Halada/AFP
If you've received a positive Covid-19 test or found out that a family member or close contact tested positive, here are the things you need to do.

Quarantine means staying at home, keeping a minimum of two-metre distance as far as possible from anyone you share a household with, and not receiving any visitors. 

Many of Austria’s regions have specific quarantine facilities available for tourists who test positive while on holiday in Austria.

If you receive a positive antigen test result

If you receive a positive result from an antigen test, you are considered a suspected Covid-19 case.

In this instance, you need to report the result to local authorities. If you did the test at a testing centre or using a system like Alles Gurgelt, this should happen automatically, but if you used an at-home test, you need to contact the healthcare hotline 1450 to find out what to do.

You then need to take a PCR test within 48 hours, and quarantine until you get the result (you can leave home to do the test, but you should wear an FFP2 mask and avoid contact with others as much as possible, and make sure that the test centre is one that accepts symptomatic visitors — not all do).

If the PCR test is negative, you can end your quarantine; if it is positive, you need to continue it and follow the rules below.

If you receive a positive PCR test result

You are considered to have a confirmed case of Covid-19. You need to inform health authorities and begin quarantine.

You should receive specific information from the healthcare authorities about how long you should quarantine for by calling 1450, although note that due to high demand, several readers of The Local have reported long waiting times on the phone.

In general, quarantine can be ended after ten days as long as you have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours. If you only had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic, you may be able to end quarantine after five days with a negative PCR test as long as it’s been at least 48 hours since you experienced any symptoms.

If you were seriously ill with Covid, you may need a negative PCR test result to end quarantine even after ten days.

The ten days are counted either from the onset of symptoms or from the positive PCR test.

If you are identified as a contact of a positive case

Austria previously had two categories of ‘contact person’, K1 and K2, determined by your vaccine status and the proximity you had to the person who tested positive. As of January 8th, there is only one type of contact person.

You will usually be identified as a contact person if one of the following applies, for example: 

  • You share a household with someone who tested positive
  • You had close contact (less than a two-metre distance for more than 15 minutes) with someone who tested positive)
  • You sat next to someone who tested positive on long-distance transport
  • You had direct physical contact with someone

If you have received a full course of vaccinations against Covid-19 and you also have either a booster dose or proof of recovery from Covid, you are not considered a contact person. You are also not considered a contact person if both you and the person who tested positive wore an FFP2 mask during the whole time you had contact with them.

If neither of those exceptions apply, you need to quarantine for five days, after which you can end quarantine if you get a negative PCR test result. There is one further exemption: some key workers, for example healthcare workers, can continue to attend work even after being identified as a contact person, but in this case you must wear an FFP2 mask and receive a negative test result each day.

If you experience symptoms consistent with Covid-19, you are considered a suspected case and should take a PCR test. If it is positive, follow the steps outlined above; if it is negative, you still cannot end quarantine earlier than the fifth day.

There is no longer any distinction between different virus variants when it comes to the length of quarantine.

Useful links

Information for contact people (Health Ministry)

Recommendations for when people who test positive can end quarantine (Health Ministry)

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