Austria to relax international travel rules from March

Austria's government on Wednesday announced a further relaxation to rules on entering the country, in addition to a plan for removing most remaining domestic Covid-19 measures.

Austria to relax international travel rules from March
It will soon be simpler to come to Austria from abroad. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP

At the moment, the basic rule for entry to Austria is 2G+, which means that regardless of which country you travel on, you need proof of either full vaccination against Covid-19 or a recent recovery, as well as either a booster dose or a negative PCR test.

But Austria has now announced the lifting of almost all its Covid restrictions on March 5th, and this will also affect international travel. 

READ ALSO: Austria to remove most Covid restrictions from March 5th

The 2G+ rule will be replaced with a general 3G rule as of February 22nd, according to the government, meaning that travellers need one of the following: proof of full vaccination, proof of recovery, or a negative test.

That opens up travel for unvaccinated travellers and means that people yet to receive a booster no longer need to take a test if they have proof of 2G. This affects children from countries which have only offered one or two doses to children, for example.

The government has said that ‘virus variant’ countries will be subject to stricter rules. At the moment, there are no countries on the virus variant risk list but this could change as new variants of the virus emerge.

In the past, measures for virus variant countries have varied: for example, when Omicron first spread, Austria issued a landing ban for ten African countries and banned travel for those not in an exempt category, but travel from the UK and three other European countries was still permitted for any purpose if travellers could meet the 2G+ requirement, although all countries were on the same list. The virus variant list was scrapped in late January.

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Austria to lift 3G requirement for workplaces

Workplaces in Austria will soon lift the requirement for employees to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test as the country relaxes its Covid measures.

Austria to lift 3G requirement for workplaces

The 3G requirement at work has been in place since November 1st and applies to all workplaces where you can’t rule out coming into close contact with others, whether that’s at your desk, at reception or in a kitchen or common area.

Penalties of up to €500 can be issued to employees, and up to €3600 for employers that violate the law.

Labour Minister Martin Kocher confirmed on Wednesday morning that the rule would be lifted in line with what the Chancellor has called Austria’s “spring awakening”.

At the moment, there aren’t many details on whether it will be replaced by any new rules for workplaces. Kocher said that the Ministry of Health would prepare an ordinance specifying the exact rules for workplaces.

It is likely that the change will come into effect from March 5th, when most other rules will be lifted, with nightclubs being re-opened and mask and 2G rules relaxed in most parts of society.

Individual workplaces will still have the right to set their own rules, and several employers in Austria have already made vaccination a requirement for new employees.

The removal of the nationwide 3G workplace rule also raises further questions about whether Austria’s vaccine mandate will be implemented in practice.

Vaccination against Covid-19 became mandatory by law at the start of February, but no fines have been issued and no checks carried out. This was initially scheduled to happen from mid-March, but the planned removal of most societal Covid measures, as well as the more stable situation in the Austrian healthcare sector as compared to early winter when the law was first planned, mean that pressure is increasing on the Health Ministry to reassess the necessity of the mandate.

READ MORE: Will Austria’s vaccine mandate go ahead?

From March 5th, nationwide 2G and 3G requirements (proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test) to enter venues will be removed, as well as the removal of the current midnight curfew for restaurants and a reopening for night clubs.

Proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test will then only be required in what the government called “particularly vulnerable settings” such as hospitals and nursing homes.