Austria bans tourists until at least December 13 as it enters Covid lockdown

The European country has paused leisure travel during its new national lockdown and will no longer accept PCR tests for entry

Winter in Austria is particularly pretty.

As the temperatures dip, cities and towns across the country transform into icy wonderlands with festive markets, snow-covered forests, winter sports and frosty mornings.

But if a trip to Austria was on your radar this year, you might want to hold off on booking your flight just yet.

That's because the European country is pausing leisure travel as part of new measures it is putting in place to fight a fourth wave of Covid-19.

From November 22, Austria will implement a temporary lockdown that will last until at least December 13, but could be extended for up to 20 days, according to the country’s chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg.

provided photo  Exterior of Hotel Imperial, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna.

Courtesy Hotel Imperial Vienna *** Local Caption ***  on17fe-alhabtoor_vienna_4.jpg

“Austria's borders are open, but given the upcoming lockdown, travel to Austria for touristic purposes will only be possible again after December 13,” a statement on the country's official tourism website read.

Austria previously reopened to tourists from the UAE in July. The start of the winter season will now be delayed until after December 13, said the tourism board on Instagram.

As part of the initial 10-day lockdown, people in Austria must stay home as much as possible, only leaving for approved reasons, such as buying groceries, going to the hospital, for a doctor's appointment and for exercise.

“During the lockdown, a curfew is in place in Austria, and all tourist facilities such as hotels, restaurants (only take-away possible), bars, cultural institutions, leisure centres, etc are closed,” stated the tourism board's portal.

The measures are being implemented to help stem the spread of Covid-19, as case numbers have been increasing rapidly in recent weeks, with Austria recording a record high of 15,809 new cases on Friday. Austria's hospitals are struggling with patient numbers and the infection rate is about 1,000 per 100,000 people, one of the highest in Europe.

After December 13, if the lockdown is eased, Austria will implement a 2G-rule, which will mean vaccination or proof of recovery will be mandatory to enter most public places.

PCR tests will no longer be accepted, except for children, those with health exemptions and business travellers for checking into a hotel.

The rules will apply for hotels, restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas, ski lifts, leisure centres, Christmas markets, events and other public places.

Children under 16 will not need to show proof of vaccination, but must have a negative Covid-19 test result to enter public places. This does not apply to children under 12 who are exempt, except in Vienna when all children aged 6 and older will need an entry test.

Face masks remain mandatory on public transport, shops and museums.

From February 1, Austria will also mandate vaccinations, according to the country's chancellor.

Austria has had a slow uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations, with around 35 per cent of the population not yet fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Updated: November 21st 2021, 9:56 AM