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Factsheet for measure AT-2021-38/2085 Updated – measures in Austria

COVID-19 response plan


Country Austria , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 15 September 2021 – 28 February 2022
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Occupational health and safety
Author Bernadette Allinger (Forba) and Eurofound
Measure added 29 November 2021 (updated 19 June 2023)

Background information

On 8 September, the federal government presented its "COVID-19 step-by-step plan" including protective measures to be taken in the face of the pandemic. The plan is based on the occupancy rates of the country's intensive care units and thus a step away from the previous indicator of daily infection rates. The start of the measure was 15 September 2021.

Content of measure

Initially, three steps were presented by the federal government in early September. An additional five steps were introduced in late October.

The following measures are enforced at the five levels:

  • Level one of the step-by-step plan is reached when 10% of Austria's intensive care beds are occupied (i.e. 200 beds): reintroduction of an FFP2 mask requirement where previously, a mouth-and-nose protection (surgical mask) was required (e.g. food shops, public transport); recommendation for FFP2 masks in other retail (mandatory for unvaccinated people); 3-G-rule (vaccinated, recovered or tested) at events from 25 people on (previously 100 people); validity of antigen tests reduced to 24 hours (instead of previously 48 hours); stricter controls by police on a random basis. Step one came into force on 15 September 2021.
  • Level two is reached seven days after an ICU occupancy rate of 15% (300 beds) is exceeded: 2-G-rule (vaccinated or recovered) applies in night gastronomy (and "similar settings") and for events without assigned seats with more than 500 people; self-administered antigen tests are no longer valid as evidence for areas with a 3-G entry rule.
  • Level three is reached after an ICU occupancy rate of 20% (400 beds) is exceeded: In areas with a previous 3-G entry rule, antigen tests become invalid and instead, only PCR tests are accepted. Originally, step 3 was to come into force only seven days after the ICU occupancy rate of 20% had been reached, but this was changed to immediate inception on 22 October.

Due to the high occurrence of COVID-19 infections in the country, on 22 October 2021 the federal government expanded its formerly 3-step plan to five steps:

  • Level four is reached as soon as an ICU occupancy rate of 25% (500 beds) is reached: A 2-G rule (vaccinated or recovered) is to come into force in all areas with a previous 3-G rule. Thus, unvaccinated people are prohibited from entering restaurants, hotels, events, cultural institutions, leisure facilities or sporting events.

Due to the high infection rates, levels two, three and four simultaneously came into force on 8 November 2021; thus, level four was entering into force ahead of reaching a 25% ICU occupancy rate.

  • Level five is reached as soon as an ICU occupancy rate of 30% (600 beds) has been reached. The critical rate of 33% utilisation of ICU capacities with COVID-19 patients is almost reached, bringing about exit restrictions ("lockdown") for unvaccinated adults (i.e. they are allowed to leave their private living area only in exceptional cases, including going to work or buying basic supplies like groceries).

Step 5 never came into force, because due to the highly dynamic infection occurrence in Austria, with the highest daily rates reached since the onset of the pandemic, a lock-down for all (vaccinated and unvaccinated people) was announced on 19 November and came into force on 22 November 2021.


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

28 February 2022

The measure ended with the emergency situation on 28 February 2022

12 December 2021

On 12 December 2021, the lockdown ended in all federal states but Upper Austria for vaccinated and recovered people, while it persists for unvaccinated. In Upper Austria, where the situation in hospitals had become critical due to high numbers of COVID patients, the lock-down for vaccinated and recovered people ended on 17 December. However, gastronomy may be open from 5am to 11 p.m. only. Regional states may implement stricter regulations (e.g. in Vienna, hotels and restaurants only opened on 20 December). From 27 December onwards (and including New Year's Eve), restaurants' curfew will be pushed forward to 10 p.m.

Use of measure

At the time of the development of the COVID-19 step-by-step plan in September 2021, the politicians had not expected that the fourth wave would hit the country more severely than the infection waves before. Thus, the plan was extended by two levels and became obsolete when a general lockdown was imposed on the country, starting to be enforced from 22 November onwards.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Applies to all businesses Applies to all citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Unknown Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: N/A


The measure was introduced by the federal government; no information on the involvement of the social partners could be identified.

Views and reactions

The Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) originally welcomed the introduction of the COVID-19 step-by-step plan, as it would 'provide planning security' and would help towards preventing the introduction of a lockdown. However, this had become overruled by the high infection rates.


  • 08 September 2021: Corona step-by-step plan for autumn (
  • 23 October 2021: Until the lockdown: new 5-step plan (
  • 07 November 2021: Mückstein: An early step-by-step plan ensures more safety and increasing vaccination numbers (


Eurofound (2021), COVID-19 response plan , measure AT-2021-38/2085 (measures in Austria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.