Austria’s Coronavirus Rules for Christmas, the Holidays, and Travel

Everything you need to know about the COVID rules in Austria during the Christmas holidays and around the New Year.

Here are the Coronavirus rules for Christmas, the Holidays, and travel that are valid from December 17 through December 26. Some measures (e.g. regarding travel) have a different timeline.

This overview is based on the government’s official communication as well as on the relevant decree.

The provided graphics contain the same information in a form that is more easily sharable.

From December 26 through January 17, a new lockdown will apply all across Austria.For more information, check out our live coverage.

Christmas

  • At private Christmas parties on December 24 and 25, up to 10 people in total from a maximum of 10 households are allowed to gather. There is no distance or mask requirement here.
  • This also applies to the extended private residential area (e.g. barns, garages).

Curfew & Masks

  • Up to and including December 23, the existing regulations apply:
  1. A curfew is in force from 20:00 in the evening to 6:00 in the morning, restricting leaving the hours or being on the street except for essentials
    1. A maximum of 6 adults and 6 children from 2 households are permitted to meet in public spaces.
  • Masks have to be worn indoors in public spaces (e.g. municipal buildings or shopping malls) and are also recommended when meeting a second household.

  • Starting on December 26, the lockdown rules will again be in place. People are called to stay at home and leave the house for one of these four reasons only:
    • Going to work.
    • Buying essentials (groceries etc.)
    • Helping others.
    • Going for a walk or doing a solo sport outdoors.

Testing

  • Every federal state will offer free antigen testing and in many cases also PCR testing before Christmas and the holidays.

  • Most testing offers will become permanent over the coming weeks. People are encourage to make use of them.

  • Pharmacies have also started offering paid rapid antigen tests,

Retail & Services

  • Shops and stores are open until December 23/24, as are personal services, including those “close to the body” such as hairdressers, massage studies and beauty salons.

  • All shops and stores will close again on December 26 and until at least January 17.

  • Masks have to be worn indoors at all times.

  • Density is restricted so as to leave at least 10 m2 per customer in every store.

Restaurants & Food

  • Restaurants and bars are closed.

  • Take-away is allowed from 06:00 in the morning to 19:00 in the evening.

  • The serving of open alcoholic beverages to-go (e.g. for glogg, Glühwein, or punch) is not permitted, thus effectively also outlawing Christmas markets.

Schools & Kindergartens

  • Schools and kindergartens for pupils up to the age of 14 are again open for in-person instructions.

  • Teachers need to wear masks, as do children older than 10 years.
  • Between January 7-14, distance teaching will take place. Those who need childcare may still send their children to school.

Sport & Leisure

  • Indoor gyms and sport facilities remain closed for all but professional athletes.

  • Outdoor sports not involving physical contact are, however, again permitted. This includes, for example, ice skating, cross-country skiing, golf and athletics.
  • Ski lifts will open to the public on December 24. Gondolas and coverable chairlifts may operate only at 50 percent capacity. Standard preventions are mandatory.
  • From December 24 on, zoos and botanical gardens will reopen to the public.
  • Museums, libraries, galleries and exhibition halls already opened at the beginning of December, will remain open with restrictions.

Travel & Quarantine

  • From December 19 to January 10, new travel rules apply for anyone entering Austria from abroad. It currently seems likely that they will also apply thereafter.

  • In general, everyone coming into Austria has to enter a 10-day quarantine, which one can cut short after 5 days with a negative PCR or antigen test.

  • People entering the country after December 19 have to bring a “Quarantäneselbstverpflichtungsformular” (quarantine self-commitment form) with them when crossing the borders. Controls will be massively scaled up.

  • Several exceptions apply:
    • Travelers from safe countries who can prove that they have spent the preceding 10 days only there or in Austria can (re)enter without the need to quarantine.
      • Safe countries currently are: Australia, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Uruguay, the Vatican and, as the only EU countries, Finland and Ireland.
    • The quarantine rule also does not apply to workers who regularly commute across the border.
    • The rule also doesn’t apply to those who commute between Austria and another country “at least once a month” for family reasons (e.g. for visiting one’s partner or children).
    • Another exception applies to those traveling for family matters that “cannot be delayed,” e.g. the birth of a child, a severe illness, a funeral or to help and support a close family member in need of care.
    • Finally, there are specific exceptions for groups such as care workers, 24-hour caregivers and diplomats – who do however need to present a negative test result on entering the country (not older than 72 hours) or get tested in Austria upon arrival. 

Care Homes & Senior Homes

  • Wearing FFP2 protective masks (or equivalent or higher) is mandatory for all employees in nursing homes and homes for the elderly when in contact with residents (effective December 18).

  • Wearing FFP2 protective masks (or equivalent or higher) and a current negative COVID-19 test result is mandatory for all visitors to nursing and residential care homes.
  •  All nursing home staff shall now be tested twice per week (rather than once).  
  •  The operators of old people’s and nursing homes must provide a test for the residents twice a week.

Events & Tourism

  • Most public events are prohibited.

  • Exceptions include demonstrations, religious celebrations and political gatherings; for those, special preventive rules apply.
  • Cultural performance venues are closed, including theaters, opera houses, concert halls and cinemas.

  • All hotels are closed for private and recreational purposes, with exceptions only for people traveling for work.

  • According to the current plan, hotels and cultural institutions are set to reopen on January 7.

Ceremonies & Religions Services

  • Weddings at the registrar’s office are only permitted in exceptional cases. Wedding parties are prohibited.
  • As an exception on compassionate grounds, up to 50 people are permitted to attend a funeral. Distance rules apply and mask-wearing is mandatory.
  • Religious institutions can also hold religious services, but under strict rules of how many people can attend at any one time and of course with mandatory mask-wearing indoors.

Masks in the Workplace

  • Wearing a mouth and nose protection (a mask) in the workplace in enclosed spaces becomes mandatory as soon as more than one person is present and there are no protective devices (e.g. partition walls).
  • There are exceptions if protective measures make it impossible to perform work (e.g. actors). In this case, organizational measures must be taken, such as the formation of fixed teams or working groups.

Masks Outdoors

  • An additional decree also directs the federal states to establish the requirement to wear a mask in high-traffic outdoor public places, such as shopping streets.

The relevant places are to be identified and clearly marked by the district authorities.

Benjamin Wolf
Benjamin studied Journalism, History and International Affairs. After stints with Cafébabel in Paris and Arte in Strasbourg, he is now working as managing editor and COO for Metropole in Vienna. Fields of expertise are politics, economics, culture, and history. Photo: Visual Hub

Numbers

For current numbers, check the website of Ministry of Health and the AGES dashboard.

Resources

The City of Vienna has compiled comprehensive information on questions and answers regarding coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease in English.

The Austrian Ministry of Health has put together FAQs on the coronavirus and also provides material to download on how to protect yourself and others from the disease, also in English.

Furthermore, the ministry will constantly update its German-language website with information on the number of people tested and cases of COVID-19 in Austria.

Hotlines

Health advice by telephone1450

If you show symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties) or fear that you are ill, stay at home and dial health number 1450 for further procedures (diagnostic clarification).

Coronavirus hotline AGES+43 0800 555 621

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) answers questions about the coronavirus (general information on transmission, symptoms, prevention) 24 hours a day at +43 0800 555 621.

VKI hotline for travel law questions+43 0800 201 211

For legal questions concerning trips that have already been booked (e.g. whether a trip can be cancelled free of charge), the experts of the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) provide advice free of charge from Monday to Sunday between 09:00 and 15:00 at +43 0800 201 211.