Once one of the hardest countries in Europe for Americans to get into, Austria is taking yet another huge step towards fully reopening for foreign visitors. From February 22, holding a recent negative Covid test will also be accepted as valid proof for entry, meaning all categories of travelers, including the unvaccinated, will be again welcome.
Throughout the pandemic, the Austrian government has imposed some of the strictest measures in fighting Covid, including banning the arrival of non-Austrian and European citizens, requiring booster doses, and issuing lockdown orders for those who are yet to be immunized. Now, it seems like the popular ski destination is taking a much more relaxed approach.
Travelers Holding A Negative Test Only Will Be Soon Eligible To Enter
Soon after removing the testing requirement for Americans who have had boosters, Austria is going even further by widening the list of third-country (non-European) nationals authorized to visit. Now, the country will enforce the so-called “3-G Rule”, which means entry is possible regardless of vaccination status, as long as at least one of the following documents is presented:
- A valid vaccination certificate;
- An official recovery letter attesting a recent infection;
- A negative PCR or rapid antigen test.
All of the above documents are time-sensitive and Americans are advised to observe their validity period before attempting to travel to Austria. If vaccinated and intending to enter Austria in possession of a vaccination card only, travelers must make sure they are up to date with their immunization schedule, as most two-dose certificates may no longer be deemed valid.
As previously reported, the European Union (EU), of which Austria is part of, has imposed a 9-month validity period for vaccine passes. This means those who were vaccinated more than 9 months ago will need a booster to continue enjoying certain freedoms, including the freedom to travel across Europe. Once inside Austria, showing valid Covid documentation is also required at certain events.
All popularly commercialized vaccines, such as BioNtech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Covaxin, Covax, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax, Sinovac, and Sinopharm are accepted in Austria. According to what is stated on the Austrian government website booster doses must also have been given at least 90 days after the second dose.
Additionally, even though Americans traveling on valid two-dose vaccine passes can still enter Austria, as of February 1 these certificates are no longer valid for entry into certain venues inside Austria. Currently, once already in the country, two-dose certificates expire after 180 days, while holders of three-dose ones can expect to keep their freedoms for 270 days.
When entering Austria on a negative test, Americans must make sure the test was taken in the 72 hours preceding arrival if it is an RT-PCR, or 24 hours when opting for a lateral flow test or rapid antigen. If choosing a recovery certificate as proof of eligibility, the infection must not have taken place more than 180 days ago and an official letter is required. Former positive tests are not considered valid for this purpose.
Soon, Austria will also require Americans to apply for travel authorization before visiting, in line with fellow Schengen Zone countries. The measure applies not only to U.S. citizens, but also all nationalities who are exempt from requesting visas in order to travel to Schengen, a borderless area comprising a majority of EU states and EU-associated countries.
What Restrictions Are In Place Inside Austria?
As of February 19, the 3-G rule applies to all restaurants, hotels, and ski facilities across all of Austria with the exception of Vienna, which continues to follow 2-G rules. Under 3-G, visitors are allowed to present either a vaccine pass, recovery proof, or negative test, while 2-G does not allow for testing. American vaccination cards and/or other certificates are generally accepted, so long as they contain the following information:
- The person’s full name and date of birth;
- Their passport number or other travel document;
- Date of the last dose, or when an infection was picked up, or when the test was performed;
- For vaccination cards specifically, the manufacturer and batch number.
Masks are also mandatory for all individuals, regardless of vaccination or recovery status, in all indoor spaces and on any public transportation, including in cable cars. Specifically, FFP2 masks are required, with other face coverings, including personalized ones made of cloth only not being permitted.
When traveling to Austria without any Covid documentation, Americans must apply for a pre-travel clearance, which is usually not conceded for purposes of tourism. If succeeding in traveling to Austria without 3-G proof, foreigners are required to self-isolate immediately. Once a negative test is presented, the quarantine period can be ended.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com