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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

Everything that changes about life in Austria in February 2022

From local elections to holidays and changes to Covid restrictions, here's a rundown of what to expect this February in Austria.

TV
It's getting more expensive to watch TV in Austria, and other changes to expect this February. Photo: Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters/Unsplash

Vaccine mandate

Possibly the most major change on this list and one of the most controversial is the introduction of a law making vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory, which comes into effect from February 1st.

From this date, every adult (aged 18 or over) with a registered residence in Austria should have valid proof of vaccination.

But the first fines won’t be issued this month, as the government will begin with an ‘information phase’ letting people know about the law and sharing information about the protective effect of the vaccines. The first fines will be issued from mid-March, and it will be possible to avoid the fee of up to €600 by getting the vaccine within two weeks even after that.

EXPLAINED: How does Austria’s vaccine mandate compare to other countries?

Thousands of vaccine passes lose validity

From February 1st, proof of vaccination will only be considered valid for six months after the second vaccine dose, down from the current nine months.

After that, you need a booster dose to be considered fully vaccinated, and this is valid for nine months. Otherwise, if your second dose was more than six months ago, you won’t be considered to have 2G proof.

If you have recently had a confirmed infection of Covid-19, you may not be able to get the booster dose immediately but a recovery certificate from a doctor will give you 2G proof.

People under 18 are exempt from the shorter validity, and in this age group a second dose is considered valid for 210 days or seven months.

Booster dose possible from 3 months after second dose

Starting from February 1st, it will be possible to get a booster dose from three months (90 days) after the second dose, reduced from four months.

However, the National Vaccination Committee still recommends getting the booster between four and six months after the second.

Some people who received their booster dose before the four-month limit were unable to receive official proof of this, with their vaccine certificates showing they had received only ‘2/2’ doses instead of ‘3/3’. After the change, these people should be able to get their valid vaccine proof.

End to Austria’s lockdown for the unvaccinated

Austria’s lockdown for people without proof of 2G will end on January 31st.

In practice, not a huge amount changes. People without proof of 2G can now leave their homes for any reason and not just for things like exercise and food shopping — but most public venues require 2G proof to enter.

Other changes to Austria’s Covid rules

The curfew for restaurants and bars will be extended from 10pm until midnight starting on February 5th, while the maximum number of guests at an event will be raised to 50 people on the same day, the Health Ministry confirmed.

The following week, on February 12th, the so-called 2G rules for retail will be removed, meaning that people will no longer need to produce proof of vaccination or recovery at the entrance to shops. Customers will still have to wear FFP2 masks.

The 2G rule for restaurants and bars as well as for events will switch to 3G the following week on February 19th

It’s worth noting that Vienna’s mayor has criticised the re-opening plan, and previously Vienna has had harsher measures than the national ones, so it’s possible stricter rules may be announced for the capital region.

READ MORE: How Austria’s Covid restrictions are changing in February

GIS fees increase

Anyone who has a TV and/or radio which is capable of receiving television channels needs to pay the fee, even if you don’t use the device for that purpose and only ever stream Netflix for example. In the latter option, it may pay off to have the tuner removed from your device. If you do not own a device capable of acting as a TV, you can opt out of the contributions.

The fees are highest in Styria at €28.65, while residents of Upper Austria and Vorarlberg enjoy the nation’s lowest fees at €22.45.

EXPLAINED: How to pay Austria’s TV and radio tax, or (legally) avoid it

School holidays

The February holiday (Semesterferien) is staggered across the country, so these are the dates schools in different regions are closed:

Vienna and Lower Austria: February 7th – 13th
Burgenland, Carinthia, Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg: February 14th – 20th
Upper Austria and Styria: February 21st – 27th

During those weeks, expect the cities to quieten a bit and ski areas to get busier.

Drivers need the 2022 vignette to drive on motorways

If you use Austria’s motorways and haven’t bought the 2022 vignette yet, remember that the 2021 version loses its validity on January 31st.

Regional elections in Tyrol

Tyrol will elect municipal councillors and mayors on February 27th. If you are an EU citizen resident in Tyrol and are aged over 16, you are eligible to vote; the region has information in simplified German on its website.

Candlemas and carnival season

It might be one of the gloomier months of the year and some of the changes on this list bring price hikes and bureaucracy, so we’ll end on a lively and colourful note: February is carnival time!

February 2nd is Candlemas, and in rural Lower Austria in particular this is the time when groups of singers go house to house similar to Christmas carol singers in the US or UK.

Usually, carnival season is inaugurated with a series of balls throughout January but this year many of the events have been called off due to Covid restrictions. Depending on the development of the pandemic, there’s hope that some of the other carnival events will still go ahead.

Carnival is a particularly big deal over in the west of the country, with the Tiroler Fasnacht and Fasching in the Salzkammergut region attracting a lot of visitors. Expect parades, costumes and a lot of music.

Even if you’re not attending any of the festivities in person, don’t miss out on the excuse to eat plenty of seasonal Faschingskrapfen, apricot jam-filled doughnuts.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge, or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Vienna.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

If you find yourself with a large piece of furniture or big household appliance that has seen its prime and is not bound to the trashcan, then you might be wondering where to dispose of them – legally, that is.

Even if it is not uncommon to see furniture or appliances next to the big trashcans often placed near households and apartment complexes, it is illegal to leave them there.

Different cities have different methods – some will even pick up trash at specific times and places. To know how your city deals with bulky waste (Sperrmüll), you can google “Sperrmüll + the name of your city”.

READ ALSO: Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Vienna has several waste collection points where you can leave bulky waste, electrical appliances, hazardous waste (in household quantities) and other old goods for no charge.

The use of the Wiener Mistplätze is subject to certain quantity limits and requirements, but they are to avoid industrial use. Therefore, most households will have no problem with the limitations.

Here you can find several collection points in Vienna.

It is worth pointing out that delivery to those sites can only be made by cars with Viennese license plates, on foot or by bicycle. Furthermore, no trailers or company cars are allowed to leave trash at these collection points.

What can you bring to the collection centres?

This is the place to bring large sheets of plastic foil, bulky or large metal parts and electrical appliances, for example.

Additionally, you can bring small amounts of bulky waste, wood, styrofoam, large cardboard boxes, green waste and used tires to any waste collection centres.

Depending on what you are disposing of, you might need to go to the Rinter centre, one of the larger ones.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

The centres also have a separate division where it is possible to donate old items still in good condition, the so-called 48er-Tandler-Box.

Tableware, small furniture, electrical appliances, clothes, toys and other items can be reused and bought at a low price at the 48er-Tandler reuse shop.

Most centres are open only from Monday to Friday during business hours, but others are also available on Saturdays.

What to do if I don’t have a car?

If you don’t need a car but still need to dispose of a large appliance, the Viennese solution varies.

Some will take public transport with a couple of friends trying to help them carry an old sofa via the u-bahn, although that can get a little tough at peak hour. 

Alternatively, you can borrow or rent a vehicle to try and save costs.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

But Vienna City also has a service that will pick up the trash for a low fee – even if it is located in the attic, a basement or a courtyard.

It’s the Entrümpelungsdienst und Sperrmüllabfuhr der MA 48. You can also ask for the “dump service” when the city of Vienna brings a trough (the smallest can fit 12 cubic meters).

Once you fill it up, they will remove it and take it to the appropriate place.

Costs will depend on the amount of trash, the size of the appliance, and where in the household it is located.

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