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Germany to remove Austria from ‘high risk’ list on Christmas Day
In a boost for Austria's winter tourism season, Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has announced that it will scrub neighbouring Austria from its risk list on December 25th.
Published: 24 December 2021 14:50 CET
Snow covers the city centre of Graz, Austria, in early December. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/APA | Erwin Scheriau
The decision was announced by the public health authority on Thursday. Along with Austria, Belize, Bosnia, Malaysia and Serbia were removed from the high-risk list
The USA, Spain, Finland, Portugal, Cyprus and Monaco were all upgraded to the ‘high risk’ category. 
Austria had previously been categorised as a ‘high risk’ country, meaning travellers entering Germany from across the border had to fill in a Digital Entry Form and submit proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test.
READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are the rules for entering Germany this Christmas and New Year?
Unvaccinated people were also required to quarantine for 10 days – or five with a further negative test. 
The change is good news for ski resort and hotel operators in Austria, as the loosened travel rules are likely to give the seasonal economy a much-needed boost.
Welcoming the news, Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger credited the country’s “successful safety measures” and “proven prevention concepts” with convincing its neighbouring country. 
“With about 37 percent of all overnight stays in the winter season, Germany is the largest and most important source market,” she said. “The fact that we were again classified as a high-risk area due to the high infection figures in November was therefore particularly bitter.” 
Amid spiralling Covid infections, Austria enforced a three-week national lockdown in November, which was lifted for vaccinated people on December 12th.
However, with fears growing over the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the lockdown was extended for the unvaccinated on December 21st. 
Meanwhile, Germany has tightened its entry rules slightly in the run up to the festive season.
Since Thursday, all entrants over the age of six must carry proof that they have been vaccinated or have recovered and have also been PCR-tested.
Previously, this only applied to people aged twelve and over.
The Local
EXPLAINED: How to not be ‘bumped’ from an overcrowded Austrian train
Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?
Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?
The EU has eased recommendations for face masks on flights and in airports, but member states are free to put their own rules in place.
Published: 17 May 2022 10:41 CEST
Updated: 22 May 2022 08:44 CEST
Since Monday, May 16th, it is no longer mandatory to wear a medical-grade face mask on flights and at airports within the EU.
But Austria will continue with the rule for now, meaning that masks are required on flights to Austria.
The implementation of the EU recommendation is based on the national rules in individual countries. 
For flights, where a destination country has a mask rule in place, then masks must be worn. 
An Austrian Airlines spokesperson told the Kronen Zeitung: “The easing of the mask requirement is an EU recommendation that must be reflected in a national regulation in order to also apply in Austria.” 
The aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC states that if masks are mandatory on public transport at the point of departure or at the destination, then the regulation should also continue on board the aircraft.
According to current Austrian Covid-19 regulations, wearing an FFP2 mask is still required in hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets, and administrative buildings.
READ MORE: LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules
In addition to Austria, masks are still compulsory in some public areas in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy – all key tourism destinations for travellers from Austria.
Hayley Maguire
LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules?
Reader question: How to write an invitation letter for visitors to Austria
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