NOTE: Last update of this article occurred on September 16th.
1. Are Austrian borders open?
The borders are open since June 4th but with some restrictions. As of July 27, there are no entry restrictions for travelers from the following EU countries:
🇨🇿 Czech Rep.
2. Is there a quarantine when entering the country?
There is a quarantine period for visitors arriving from outside the countries listed above
Austrian citizens or persons who have their residence or habitual abode in one of these countries do not require a negative molecular biological test for SARS-CoV-2. They do not have to undergo a 10-day self-monitored home quarantine.
Travelers need to have stayed in any of the 31 countries for a 10-day period before arrival in Austria. Otherwise, they have to either present a negative coronavirus test taken in the last 72 hours, or go into quarantine for 10 days (which can be ended upon presentation of a negative test).
Austrian authorities advise that even if some countries are regaining a great deal of freedom to travel, all those who are thinking of a summer holiday are advised to spend it in Austria this year. All sights, swimming pools and other leisure facilities may reopen. However, it is still strongly recommended to keep a minimum distance from other persons outside the common household in order to avoid infection. “We appeal to the personal responsibility of each individual to keep a distance of at least 1 meter among all persons not living in the same household,” the Austrian Tourism Office stated.
Due to increasing numbers of infections, federal states are adopting measures – for their entire territory or limited to individual regions – to contain the risk of infection. For further information, please refer to the respective pages of the federal state or region.
3. Under what conditions is free cancellation of a package tour possible?
Section 10(2) of the Austrian Package Travel Act (PRG) provides for a right of cancellation free of charge for the traveller if unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occur at or in the immediate vicinity of the destination which significantly impair the performance of the package tour or the transport of persons to the destination. The traveller shall be refunded all sums paid for the journey. However, the traveller is not entitled to any further compensation.
The PRG defines unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances as circumstances beyond the control of the party invoking them, if the consequences of such circumstances could not have been avoided even if all reasonable precautions had been taken. As an example, the recitals of the Package Travel Directive mention, inter-alia, the outbreak of a serious illness at the destination.
In addition to unavoidable and exceptional circumstances, there must be a significant impairment of the performance of the journey or of the passenger’s transport.
According to the previous case law, the right to withdraw from the contract free of charge also depends on the proximity of the date of departure. If the start of the journey is not imminent, further developments must be awaited.
Please note that it is difficult to provide blanket information and each case must be treated individually.
Whether a cancellation should be accepted free of charge depends on various factors:
- Is there a partial travel warning for the destination?
- Is the trip imminent?
- If I change the itinerary due to the travel warning, can the traveler cancel free of charge?
- Due to travel bans, guests cannot enter Austria. As a tour operator, do I have to accept a cancellation free of charge?
- Due to exit bans, guests cannot leave the country as planned. Who has to bear the costs for the involuntary stay of guests?
The Austrian Package Travel Act (PRG) offers in its § 9 (2) another possibility to withdraw from the package travel contract – without paying any compensation – if the tour operator is forced to change one of the essential characteristics (these are main services – such as the type of travel) before the start of the package tour and the traveller does not agree to this change.
4. Under what conditions is free cancellation possible in accommodation establishments?
In principle, the cancellation options are based on the agreements in the accommodation contract and the included terms and conditions. If the fulfillment of the contract was impossible due to official orders such as official prohibitions to enter the country, entry restrictions, quarantine measures, etc., the accommodation contract must be reversed and all liabilities must be cancelled. In agreement with the guest, other arrangements are of course also possible (e.g. vouchers or the postponement of the booking or rebooking to another period). Accommodation contracts for the period concerned must also be reversed in the federal states affected by the closure of establishments.
5. Catering, events and celebrations
Catering establishments can now open their business premises for guests from 5pm to 1 a.m. Persons in a joint group of visitors need to stay at a minimum distance of 1 meter. Events and celebrations are possible for up to 100 persons since 29 May 2020. From 1 August onwards, up to 200 persons are possible.
6. What to do if symptoms of an illness appear?
Common signs of infection with the novel corona virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. If you have symptoms or fear that you may be ill, call the 1450 Health Care Telephone and follow the instructions given there. Detailed information on the current situation of the coronavirus as well as on the official obligation to report it can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection.