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Coronavirus - Easing of restrictions for hotels, training courses and educational events - Austria

  • Austria
  • Coronavirus
  • Coronavirus - Country overview

29-05-2020

After easing the measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in restaurants, the Ministry of Social Affairs published on 18 May 2020 a first extract of the COVID-19 easing regulation, the full version of which is yet to be released, which focuses on training courses, educational courses, accommodation establishments and facilities under the Bathing Hygiene Act.

The initial situation regarding training institutions

Based on the current COVID-19 easing regulation, it is only permitted to enter training facilities for specific purposes, such as health care training for health care professionals as well as for the preparation and implementation of matriculation examinations or school-leaving examinations. Trainees and students must already keep a distance of at least one meter from people with whom they do not live in a common household and must wear mouth and nose protection.

The initial situation regarding accommodation facilities

Based on the current COVID-19 easing regulation, it is not permitted to enter hotels and other accommodation facilities for tourist purposes. The legislator defines accommodation facilities as places of accommodation which are under the management or supervision of the accommodation provider, or a person authorised by the latter, and are intended to accommodate guests for temporary stays, whether paid for or free of charge. In addition, supervised camping sites or caravan sites as well as refuge sites are also considered accommodation facilities within the regulation.

Accommodation for occupational reasons and provided for carers and persons in need of support were excluded from the entry restrictions of the regulation.

The planned easing measures for training courses, educational courses and further training courses

In deviation from the previously existing rules, as of 29 May 2020, all training courses, educational courses and further training courses with up to 100 participants will be permitted, provided that a minimum distance of one meter is maintained between people not living in a common household. In closed rooms, everyone must wear mouth and nose protection. If the minimum distance of one meter cannot be maintained, other suitable protective measures must be introduced to minimize the risk of infection.

The planned easing measures for accommodation facilities

From 29 May 2020, it will be permitted to enter accommodation facilities for the purpose of recreation and leisure activities.

However, in order to safely use the accommodation facility, guests must keep a distance of at least one meter in the common areas of the accommodation facility from everyone with whom they do not live in a common household or from those who do not belong to the guest group in the accommodation unit. In the entire entrance area of the accommodation facility and the reception, all guests are obliged to wear mouth and nose protection.

The operator of the accommodation facility must ensure that its employees also wear mouth and nose protection when in contact with customers.

In accordance with the rules intended by the legislator, overnight stays in dormitories or other common dormitories, as primarily provided in hostels and youth hostels, should only be permitted if a distance of at least two meters is maintained between people who are not living in a common household, or if the risk of infection is minimised by other suitable protective measures.

Since many accommodation facilities also have restaurant, fitness and wellness areas, the legislator has also provided rules in this respect.

For restaurant areas which are managed by an accommodation facility, the rules that are now in force for the restaurant sector since 15 May 2020 largely apply. However, in deviation from these rules, self-service food facilities or buffet food may be made available for overnight guests without the food and drinks being handed out by employees of the operator provided that the risk of infection is minimised by taking special hygienic precautions.

When entering fitness areas within the accommodation facility, the same regulations shall apply as provided for sports facilities. In consideration of the legislator’s announcement, this is intended to permit the operation of fitness studios as of 29 May 2020, the requirements of which are expected to be specified in full detail soon.

As for wellness areas located in the accommodation facility, the rules already provided by the legislator for indoor swimming pools and thermal baths shall apply with the exception that people who belong to a common group of guests are treated equally to those who live in a common household.

Conclusions

  • As of 29 May 2020, admission for training courses, education courses and further training courses is permitted for up to a maximum of 100 participants. This change also allows language and driving schools and all other seminar organisers to resume training operations in compliance with the above-mentioned requirements. Seminars held on the premises of accommodation facilities will also be permitted from 29 May 2020
  • In accommodation facilities, guests are obliged to wear mouth and nose protection in the entrance and reception areas
  • Accommodation facility employees are also obliged to wear mouth and nose protection when in contact with customers
  • For overnight stays in dormitories and shared sleeping rooms, bunk bed accommodation will not be possible due to the minimum distance of two meters required by law
  • Accommodation facilities are permitted to offer buffets for their overnight guests, subject to special hygiene measures. These measures may include the use of disposable gloves, disinfectant dispensers, or disposable cutlery
  • Wellness and fitness areas in accommodation facilities are subject to the same rules as swimming pools, thermal baths or gyms
  • The previously announced and promised easing of the rules concerning events will be applied from 29 May 2020 onwards and are not mentioned in the excerpt of the COVID-19 easing regulation, which is still to be issued. The legislator has promised to allow indoor and outdoor events for up to 100 people. In this context, a full definition by the legislator is soon to be released

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