Face masks again mandatory in Austria from Wednesday

21 Mar 2022

People in Austria are once again required to wear FFP2 face coverings indoors as Covid cases soar across the country, said Health Minister Johannes Rauch.

"I don't like doing that," Rauch said during a press conference. He added that the requirement will come into effect from Wednesday and isolation regulations will also be revised.

The Health Minister stated that restrictions were relaxed “too early” and were too far-reaching. Austria is the first country in the EU to reimpose curbs during the current Covid wave. Case numbers have been rising throughout the country over the last fortnight.

"A decline in the current figures is not expected until the next few weeks," according to a statement by the Austrian federal health ministry, going on to add that "the tense situation will therefore last much longer than previously expected."

Restrictions were eased in Austria on 5th March, meaning FFP2 face masks were only compulsory in hospitals, on public transport and in essential stores. The federal government announced the end of the majority of restrictions, including the so-called 3G and 2G rules (vaccinated, recovered, or tested) for entry into most venues. In addition, the government halted a vaccine mandate, as plans were in place to begin checks and issuing fines for people who hadn’t been vaccinated from the middle of this month.

The Health Minister added that he regretted the confusion caused from a "back and forth" implementation of the measures.

The easing of measures was heavily criticised in Austria. Vienna announced it wouldn’t adhere to the reopening procedures, maintaining the 2G rule for restaurants and mandatory mask wearing indoors.

At the time of writing, there have been 3,466,203 reported Covid cases in Austria since the start of the pandemic, and 15,409 deaths.