Updated October 1st, 2021: Vienna “reopened” in late May after long periods of partial/full lockdown in 2020 and early 2021.
All the tourism infrastructure – hotels, bars, restaurants, coffee houses, museums, nightclubs, zoos, cinemas, concert venues, theatres, opera houses etc. – has opened in the city. Cultural and sporting events are also taking place again.
Be aware, though, that some measures remain to help contain any upsurge of COVID-19 in the country as the vaccination programme continues to roll out.
The two main issues that concern visitors are:
1. Entrance & registration requirements
Access to numerous locations and services (e.g. hotels, restaurants & most events) in Austria depends on you satisfying certain COVID status requirements. The minimum so-called 3G requirement means you need to prove you are either:
- Recovered (“Genesen”) from a recent COVID infection
- Or have a timely and valid negative COVID test result (“Getestet”)
- Or have been fully vaccinated (“Geimpft”) with an approved vaccine
Some locations and services (e.g. gastronomy and many events) may also need a record of your contact details.
See official sites for all the details and small print on these and other rules. For example, stores and museums are generally exempt from the 3G requirement. Incidentally, tourists can make free use of all the municipal testing facilities.
My understanding of the current definition of “fully vaccinated” is (but do check the latest official info!):
- From the second jab on EMA-approved two-jab vaccines (like Pfizer) for a period of 360 days (with at least a 14-day gap between your 1st and 2nd jabs)
- From the 22nd day after the jab on EMA-approved one-jab vaccines (Johnson & Johnson) for a period of 270 days from the day of the jab
- If you get a booster jab no sooner than 120 days after your previous final jab, then you count as fully vaccinated for 360 days from that booster jab
Vienna has stricter requirements than the rest of the country. For example:
- In many circumstances (including hotels, coffee houses and restaurants, for example), only approved PCR tests are valid as proof of a negative test result (creating what is known as the 2.5G rule). In such cases, rapid antigen tests are no longer accepted (with an exception for kids under 12). Another exception is where a hotel guest would end up on the street because a timely PCR test result is not possible: then an approved rapid antigen test suffices as a stopgap measure.
- Approved PCR test results are only valid for 48 hours (or 72 hours in kids under 12)
- Tighter limits apply when entering the Viennese Nachtgastronomie (“night gastronomy”): a term which covers such locations as nightclubs, bars and discos. The 2G rule applies to these locations: you must be fully vaccinated or recovered. Tests will no longer be accepted.
- This 2G requirement also applies to gatherings and events involving more than 500 people.
- There is an exception for kids under 12, who can meet this 2G requirement with an approved timely negative COVID test.
- Children under 6 are exempt from the various G requirements in Vienna.
Some locations, services and/or events may have their own entry requirements beyond those demanded by law (so check).
It certainly seems that safety-first 2.5G or 2G requirements for access to numerous locations will be with us for a while yet; it already seems likely similar restrictions will apply to at least some Christmas markets in Vienna, for example.
I find it reassuring to be honest and simply carry my proof of vaccination with me at all times. Essentially, being vaccinated is your best option for the minimum of hassle.
2. Face masks
Face masks are required in Vienna, for example, when using public transport or taxis and inside retail outlets and museums. Other locations may also require (or insist) on them. Kids under 6 are exempt.
Regulations proscribe FFP2-standard masks for many such situations, so you’re best off always having those with you.
Having said all this, I emphasise the following:
As a private individual, I’m not qualified to offer you travel or medical advice, especially since the rules contain many ifs, buts, exemptions, and details. So…check the official tourism website, which has comprehensive info, updates, and links in English for those planning (or on) a trip to Vienna.
Also be sure to check:
- Official event, service & location websites (particularly for info on their entry requirements)
- Your government’s travel advisory pages (particularly regarding, for example, any restrictions and requirements concerning entry to Austria and returning from Austria)
Check official sources for accurate, up-to-date advice and information.