UK travellers to Austria now need proof of a booster vaccine to visit without quarantine

Dec 23, 2021

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This article will be updated as more announcements are made.

U.K. tourists heading to Austria now face increased restrictions and will need to show proof of a COVID-19 booster dose to gain entry to the popular European ski destination.

The new regulations are effective immediately and follow a government meeting on Wednesday morning to address the spread of the omicron variant. Earlier speculation from Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung suggested that U.K. tourists could effectively be banned from travelling to Austria due to prolonged quarantine requirements. Current reports suggest that isolation can be avoided provided you have proof of a booster jab and full vaccination.

There are however conflicting breakdowns of the new rules regarding “virus variant areas” and we’d advise some caution and checking with local authorities and government websites pre-departure.

The U.K.’s foreign travel advice currently states that U.K. travellers (and those from the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway) will be required to quarantine for ten days on arrival unless they are fully vaccinated — with a booster dose, and able to present a negative PCR test. This is due to be effective from the 25 December with further details on exceptions incoming.

The wording on Austria’s official tourism site, however, leaves room for a different interpretation, where they state: “Austria is reacting to the expansion of the omicron variant with new entry regulations … this new regulation applies to entry from all countries (including day trips) with the exception of the virus variant areas. Entry without vaccination or convalescence is de facto not possible for vacation purposes.”

This would suggest that further rules may still apply to the U.K. and other nations listed as “virus variant areas.”

The Austrian embassy website is similarly vague and has yet to be fully updated, saying simply: “Details about the new entry requirements from the United Kingdom to Austria will be published as soon as possible. Please visit our website again at a later date.”

Should more restrictions be added to “virus variant areas” it would likely mean that any British arrivals would be faced with a 10-day quarantine, which would effectively curtail tourism for many travellers to Austria for the foreseeable.

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Regardless, the restriction updates — even as they currently stand — are another blow for U.K. travellers wishing to travel to the popular winter ski destination if they are still yet to receive their booster vaccine. Currently less that 50% of the U.K. population has received their third vaccine dose, as reported by The Guardian.

Related: The 26 countries UK travellers are currently banned from 

As is the case in many other European nations Brits that do travel to Austria without the required vaccination status would currently be eligible to leave quarantine early via a day five “test to release” system if they can provide a negative COVID-19 test result. However, this would still mean tourists would spend almost an entire week in self-isolation with no guarantee that the result of any tests would fall in their favour.

Related: Which European countries have COVID-19 restrictions in place this Christmas?

Travellers who are not double jabbed are prohibited from entering Austria unless they meet “exceptional circumstances. Meanwhile, unvaccinated Austrian residents are currently in lockdown under a strict stay-at-home order.

France and Germany have both placed bans on U.K. tourists as British cases continue to soar, and more recently yesterday Singapore and Malaysia also froze travel for non-residents while Sweden has also announced tighter restrictions on travel.

Featured image — Hochgurgl, Austria — by Getty Images/TPopova

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