Domestic Lockdown To End For Vaccinated Citizens
Austria is set to end its temporary ban on tourism to the country from after December 13th. The lockdown had been in place since November 22nd.
The ban on tourism, as well as the lockdown, was in repose to increasing COVID infection rates in the country. Many countries in Europe are seeing higher infection rates as winter takes hold.
To enter Austria, tourists must show proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID, or a COVID PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before traveling to the country. Those with proof of vaccination or recovery are not required to show a PCR test.
It should be noted however, that there are still six days until the tourism ban and lockdown are set to end. Rules and restrictions can change quickly and any travelers hoping to enter Austria should keep themselves aware of all regulations.
Upon entering the country, the 2G ruling is still in place. Under this rule, those wishing to enter a public place, such as a restaurant, bar, club, leisure center, and other similar establishments must show proof of vaccination or recovery. A negative COVID test will not be accepted for entry into any of these places. This includes the use of ski lifts, an important note for those hoping to hit the slops in Austria over the Christmas break.
However, those travelers wishing to enter from the South of Africa, including South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, are completely banned from entering the country due to the Omicron variant.
Shops and other services will open for vaccinated citizens this Monday, with restaurants, clubs and bars to follow the next week. The delay is to allow for any further developments of the Omicron variant to surface and be dealt with accordingly.
Austria had previously enforced a strict lockdown, a strong stance reversal from the government who had claimed the country had seen the last of lockdowns. Initially, it was announced that only the unvaccinated would be affected by the restrictions, but several days later, the mandates were extended to the entire population and the borders closed.
The Delta variant is the main culprit for the current issues, but the emergence of Omicron from Southern Africa is a new hurdle for many countries to tackle in the coming weeks.
The news will be welcomed by many in the tourism sector, as one of Austria’s biggest draws for the year comes in the form of Christmas markets, and ski resorts. Many will be hoping for a last minute surge in arrivals before Christmas, assuming the opening goes as planned.
The infection rate has dropped significantly in Austria since its peak on November 24th, but some of this has been blamed on their low vaccination rate – the lowest in western europe. To counter this, the government has introduced what is widely regarded as one of the strictest COVID related rules in the world. All Austrian citizens must be fully vaccinated by February or face fines or other punishment.
The new Chancellor, Karl Nehammer, stated this week in a message to the unvaccinated “For all the unvaccinated who are suffering from the fact they are staying in lockdown, there is a clear offer: you can come out of it if you seize the chance to get vaccinated.”
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com