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Austria: health pass soon to become compulsory at work

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Austria – Following the Social Democrats’ support ensuring a government majority in the Bundesrat (upper house), Austria will, like neighbouring Italy, introduce a Covid pass mandate at work starting Monday, 1 November, with a transitional period until 15 November.

Health passes at the workplace 

In practice, this means, according to the implementing decree, that

employees, owners and operators may enter a workplace where physical contact with other people cannot be excluded only if they have a health pass”.

The limit below which a health pass is not mandatory is “no more than two physical contacts per day that take place outdoors and last no more than 15 minutes each”. As of November 15, people without a health pass may lose their jobs.

Health pass scalability 

The health pass, which is commonly referred to as 3G in Austria and Germany (3G = Geimpft, Genesen, Getestet – Vaccinated, Cured, or Negatively Tested), will be strengthened from 3G to 2.5G or 2G if necessary, depending on the number of intensive care beds occupied by Covid patients.

In the case of the current 3G, self-tests (Wohnzimmertests) and antigen tests are valid to get a green pass. These self-tests, 10 of which are issued free of charge in pharmacies every month to anyone receiving social security benefits, are valid for 24 hours, but have no scientific value whatsoever as no one can check whether they have been carried out properly. In the case of 2.5G, self-tests will no longer be valid, as only PCR tests will be accepted. In the case of 2G, only the vaccinated and people who have had the disease will be entitled to a health pass. Workplace tests will be free of charge, thanks to an arrangement obtained by the Social Democrats in exchange for their support for the scheme.

New lockdowns envisaged for the unvaccinated only

The 3G pass will be in effect up to a threshold of 300 Covid patients in intensive care throughout Austria. Beyond that threshold and up to 400 Covid patients in intensive care, the self-tests will no longer be valid. From 400 to 500 patients in ICU, the antigenic tests will no longer be valid either, and the 3G pass will become 2.5G. Above 500 Covid patients in ICU, the 2G pass will apply. In that case, unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed to work, nor to go to restaurants, hotels, etc. Finally, from 600 Covid patients in intensive care upward, the unvaccinated will be confined to their homes as the whole of the population was in spring 2020.