Ten-person limit, no parties and almost everywhere masks: which rules apply now

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by Hector Pascua, with reports from sozialministerium.at and diepresse.at

Since September 21, the corona rules have been tightened again throughout Austria. Especially affected are events and festivals.

After a relatively relaxed summer, it was probably only a matter of time before it became stricter again. Since Monday, 21.09., stricter corona measures are again in effect throughout Austria. Especially private gatherings and events are being restricted again. An overview of what is now allowed – and what not:

Daily life, family, social affairs:

It is always allowed to go out of the house. However, the one-meter distance rule – “baby elephant” – for people who do not live in the same household still applies. However, this is quite loosely interpreted. Even people who live together only “temporarily” can dispense with the 1-meter distance – i.e. couples can continue to hold hands.
The private space – i.e. the own four walls – remains untouched. However, the government recommends that a maximum of ten people, as well as hygiene and distance rules, be observed.
Visits to old people’s homes, nursing homes and hospitals are generally permitted. The rules of the respective institution apply.

Celebrations, events, meeting friends:

Up to 100 people may meet outdoors, provided that the rules of distance are observed.
At “private parties” only 10 people are allowed, it was said last week. In concrete terms, this means that the ten-person limit applies in principle to social activities in groups that take place in closed but publicly accessible rooms. This includes card games or game nights.
But also smaller indoor cultural events or sports events that only offer standing room and no security concept are to be limited to ten instead of 50 persons. E.g. yoga courses, exhibitions, vernissages, congresses, training courses and further education without compelling professional necessity.
Wedding ceremonies are also limited to 10 persons. For funerals the maximum number of 500 persons applies.
Whoever plans an event with more than 250 persons in public, requires a permit. For events with more than 50 people indoors and more than 100 people outdoors, a Covid representative and a prevention concept is required.
Church services are excluded from these rules. However, it is recommended to wear a mouth and nose protector, to limit singing and to keep the minimum distance if possible.

Wear masks:

The mouth/nose protection must be worn on public transport, in the health sector including pharmacies and in services where the 1-meter minimum distance cannot be maintained. These include cabs and other driving service providers, hairdressers or beauty salons.
In addition, the wearing of masks is compulsory when shopping in all stores. Since Monday, the mask must also be worn at outdoor markets and in shopping centers.
Mouth and nose protection must also be worn in customer areas of other business premises, such as museums, exhibitions or libraries, as well as in hotels and other accommodation establishments and restaurants except at the seat.
Likewise, the obligation to wear masks continues to apply at events in closed rooms if no seats are assigned, as well as in cable cars and rack railroads, coaches and in the interior of excursion boats.
Mouth and nose protection is also compulsory during demonstrations if the 1-meter distance cannot be maintained.
In schools, masks must be worn outside the classroom.

In public transport, passengers must therefore continue to wear masks in the vehicles and throughout the entire area of the stations. The only exceptions are children under six years of age and persons who cannot wear a mask for health reasons. 50 Euro penalty will be charged for a violation of the mask obligation at the Wiener Linien, if one does not comply with the request of the staff. At the ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways) a violation costs 40 Euro. In addition, the ride can be refused. ÖBB also reserves the right to inform the police if someone persistently refuses. Taking off the mask for a short time to eat or drink is permitted when riding the train.

Driving a car is permitted. Persons who do not live in the same household do not have to wear a mask in the vehicle. However, only two people may still sit in each row of seats including the handlebars. For a normal car, four people are therefore allowed. There are no restrictions for a family living under one roof.
People in quarantine are not allowed to drive a vehicle under any circumstances, because they are not allowed to leave their own home.

Entry from a country where there is no stable COVID-19 situation is only possible with a negative corona test (not older than 72 hours) or with mandatory quarantine. That concerns at present for instance Spain (with exception of the Kanaren) Croatia, Sweden and Portugal (to the complete list) Third-country nationals may not enter. However, there are a number of exceptions, such as for diplomats or seasonal workers.

For restaurants, cafés and pubs there is again a generally valid closing time, this also applies to closed groups. They may now be open from five to 1 a.m.
Only a maximum of ten people may sit at a table.
However, there must still be a distance of at least one meter between groups of visitors. This minimum distance does not have to be observed if there is a spatial separation.
Food and beverages may only be consumed while seated, at least in closed rooms. Food and drink may not be consumed at counters and counters in the immediate vicinity of the point of sale.
The mask must be worn – except at the table.
Hotel business:

In hotel establishments, guests in generally accessible interior rooms must wear a mask. In addition, the one-meter distance must still be observed towards other persons who do not live in the common household or do not belong to the guest group in the common accommodation unit.
The same rules apply in the catering area of the hotels as in “normal catering”.
In a wellness area, a mask is also mandatory indoors, for example in the entrance area, in the sanitary facilities, changing rooms (cabins and boxes). Excluded are wet rooms such as showers and swimming pools. No mask has to be worn on a lounger in the wellness area.


Any kind of sport is possible in principle both indoor and outdoor, a minimum distance does not have to be kept during the sport. For sports involving physical contact, the club or the operator of the sports facility must draw up and implement a prevention concept.
The restriction for 10 persons in closed rooms applies per training group, provided that the groups do not mix. This means that several training groups can train simultaneously in a large hall.
In the case of team sports, the maximum permitted number is based on the required number of players as well as referees, coaches and substitute players.
If an athlete, coach or trainer becomes infected with Covid-19, all participants must be tested for the corona virus in the 10 days before each competition.
Fitness centers are open, but need a prevention concept. When entering the gym, the minimum distance and mask obligation applies. More than ten people may enter at the same time, unless they are attending a course led by a trainer. However, no mouth and nose protection must be worn when exercising sports.
For yoga courses and private sports units – such as dance classes – the required trainers are allowed in addition to ten participants.
Swimming pools are open. In accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health, a minimum distance of one to two meters must be maintained in artificial pools; in showers and changing rooms the one-meter distance applies. Indoors, there is an obligation to protect the mouth and nose, with the exception of showers or the indoor swimming pool.

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