Amidst a fresh surge of new Covid-19 infections in Europe, a series of countries in the continent have imposed further restrictions on inbound travelers entering their territories. Austria is no exception.
After emerging from a month-long lockdown earlier this month, the popular central European destination has tightened its border policy and now asks for proof of a booster dose so travelers can bypass further requirements.
What Has Changed Since December 20
Before December 20, travelers entering Austria were required to present a certificate stating they had been fully immunised with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Now, more restrictive rules are in place.
In order to enter Austria, the new so-called “2-G” rule is applied. This means that, in addition to having had the full course of an approved vaccine, visitors also must present a negative PCR test OR proof of a booster dose.
This applies to most foreign nationals arriving in Austria, including Americans and Canadians.
Can Travelers Still Enter Austria Without a Booster or PCR?
In theory, entry is still allowed for non-boostered individuals, but there are additional restrictions which are set out below:
Visitors who are yet to receive a booster dose, or who fail to produce a negative PCR test taken within the 72 hours prior to arrival, are required to register for pre-travel clearance and must stay in isolation until a negative test is presented.
Proof of recovery is also an option for entry.
Proof of having received a booster eliminates the necessity of both pre-arrival testing and post-arrival quarantine.
Recently, the European Union (of which Austria is a part of) has also agreed to roll out mandatory booster doses in order to keep COVID passes valid for travel within the bloc.
This is one of a series of new restrictions being enacted that are sure to impact American and other foreign visitors soon.
Are There Exceptions to the 2-G Rule?
Austrian citizens and residents, as well as fellow EU nationals, citizens of the EEA, and Switzerland are still allowed to travel to Austria without proof of a booster dose or a negative PCR test.
They are required, however, to register upon entry and quarantine for 10 days. This period can be shortened to 5 days provided a negative PCR is presented on day 5, with day of entry counting as day 0.
On the other hand, entry of non-EU nationals including Americans for tourism is in principle not possible anymore if the traveler is not able to meet the 2-G requirements, such as the unvaccinated.
Can I Travel to Austria from Virus Variant Areas?
Certain categories of travelers arriving from “virus variant areas” are not able to benefit from the 2-G Rule and are virtually banned from entering Austria for the moment.
The entry ban affects visitors from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesoto, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and South Africa.
This means that those with a recent travel history or residence in any of the aforementioned countries may also not be entitled to visit Austria at this stage, whether boostered or not.
Exceptions apply to returning Austrian citizens and residents.
What is Open in Austria Right Now?
Since December 13, Austria has re-emerged from a lockdown and has been slowly phasing out its reopening plan. For now, tourist attractions remain open, such as museums and ski resorts.
On the other hand, the vast majority of bars and clubs are closed, though restaurants are still functioning with an 11 PM curfew.
It is worth noting entry to most venues in Austria is subject to the 2-G rule, and only possible through presentation of a valid COVID vaccination certificate, rendering recent negative PCR tests invalid for that purpose.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories