FAQ Coronavirus

IMPORTANT: Are you currently on holiday abroad?  Please register with the Foreign Ministry!
 

https://www.bmeia.gv.at/reise-aufenthalt/auslandsservice/reiseregistrierung

 

This way you can be contacted, if necessary, and helped with your transport home to Austria. 


Even if your journey is still to come, you should register!
 

 

On this page you will find answers to the most common questions about the coronavirus from the perspective we are being asked by Austrian citizens. We have deliberately kept the FAQ short in order to provide you with simple and clear assistance. All eventualities of a case and legal details are therefore not shown here. 
 

-> Answers to questions that arise when you are already on holiday can be found starting with question 36.

 

 

BEFORE THE JOURNEY

(questions 1-35)
 

1. Do I have to take a booked holiday?
 

No, the worst thing that can happen is that you have to pay cancellation fees.

 
2. I have booked hotel+flight/bus/train as a package tour. I am supposed to travel within the next 7 days. Can I cancel free of charge?
 

  • Yes, if the destination is suddenly very much affected by the virus, so that it is unreasonable to go there.
  • Yes, if I am not officially allowed to enter this country or would have to go into immediate quarantine (for more information, see below).
  • No, if the destination is not seriously affected.


3. I have booked hotel+flight/bus/train as a package tour. I am supposed to leave in a few weeks/months. Can I cancel free of charge?

No, this is only possible one week in advance. The situation may still change. However, please ask if the tour operator will let you cancel or rebook your trip free of charge as a gesture of goodwill. Some tour operators are currently doing this.
 

If it is already clear that the trip definitely cannot take place, for example because a 1-month entry ban has been imposed, you can already cancel free of charge.

 

4. I have booked hotel+flight/bus/train as a package tour. I am supposed to travel in a few weeks/months. What should I do now?

If you cancel already now, you will have to pay a cancellation fee. But the earlier you cancel, the lower the cancellation fee. If it is unacceptably dangerous shortly before you arrive at your destination, you have paid the cancellation fee pointlessly, because then you could have cancelled free of charge. In retrospect, you cannot then claim the fees back.
 

If you wait and see how the situation develops, two variants can occur:

  • The destination is severely affected by the virus shortly before departure or there is a ban on entry - you can cancel free of charge.
  • The situation has calmed down - but if you still do not want to travel because you feel uncomfortable, there is a cancellation fee and just before departure this is very high.

So it is a certain gamble.

 

 Therefore, to be on the safe side, ask the tour operator whether they offer you e.g. a free rebooking.

 

5. Must I accept a voucher after a free cancellation?

No, if you had the right to cancel free of charge (see above), then you are entitled to money. If it was goodwill, a voucher is fine.

 

6. I have booked hotel+flight/bus/train as a package tour. I am allowed to enter the country, but I have to go into quarantine there immediately for several days. Can I cancel free of charge?

Yes, the package tour cannot be carried out as booked. A quarantine of several days is a significant change.
 

 

The prerequisite is, of course, that the compulsory quarantine applies on the date of your planned arrival. If this is still unclear, you would have to wait or cancel with costs (see above).

 


7. My destination is currently not heavily affected. However, I am afraid that this will happen and therefore do not want to travel. Can I cancel free of charge?

No, this is only possible if there are already exceptional circumstances at the holiday destination.
 

 

8. I have booked a package tour with sightseeing. But all of them are already closed. Can I cancel free of charge?


Yes, the package tour cannot be carried out as booked.
 

 

9. I have booked a round trip or cruise. The route must be changed due to the Corona virus. Do I have to accept this?

If it is a significant change, no. Reply to the tour operator in writing within the set time limit that you do not accept the new route and you therefore cancel free of charge.
 

 

10. I have booked a cruise where I would start in Italy. The cruise itself is going to countries that are not currently affected or not severely affected by coronavirus. Can I cancel free of charge?

As long as the travel warning from the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the region where the port is located is in effect, we believe you are entitled to a free cancellation.


As soon as there is no longer a travel warning there, we do not know for sure. Try to negotiate with the tour operator. Give the above mentioned arguments, if necessary also your age and previous illnesses. Maybe a voucher for a later cruise or boarding in another port is a possible solution.

 


11. Is a travel warning from the Foreign Ministry mandatory for a free cancellation?

No. According to previous rulings of the Austrian Supreme Court, it is sufficient that serious media reports suggest that it is unreasonable to start the journey.

However, when this is fulfilled, it repeatedly leads to differences of opinion. With an official travel warning, one often spares oneself the discussion whether it is dangerous or not at the holiday destination.

 

12. How do I know if there is a travel warning for my holiday destination?

The website of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides information on each country.


Security level 6 means travel warning for the whole country, level 5 means travel warning for a certain region. So check how far your holiday destination is from this region.

 

Anything below level 5 is not a travel warning.

 

A worldwide list of travel warnings can be found on this website.


 
13. If I now book a trip to a region where there are NOT a lot of coronavirus cases and the situation is not getting worse, can I still cancel for free if I change my mind?

No, this is only possible if you were surprised by the exceptional circumstances at the holiday destination after booking.
 
 

14. I only booked one air/train/bus ticket. The transport company has now cancelled on its own initiative. Do I get the money back or do I have to accept a voucher?

Yes you can reclaim the money for the ticket price.
 

 

15. I have only booked a flight/train/bus ticket. The route is still being operated, but I don't want to go there now because of the coronavirus. Can I cancel free of charge?

This is more difficult than with a package tour because the local stay is not part of the contract. Still be sure to ask the transport company whether you can cancel free of charge or whether you can get a voucher for a later trip/flight instead.
 


If the destination is very much affected by the virus, you can also try to argue that you did not want to continue your trip straight away, but wanted to spend your holiday in this city. You can also argue that you find it unreasonable to leave the means of transport and that the basis of the contract is therefore no longer valid.

Certain taxes and fees are also refunded by an airline in the event of cancellation with costs, although this is often very little.


 
16. I just booked a plane ticket. I am not allowed to enter the country I was supposed to fly to (e.g. Israel, USA) or I am not able to get a visa for this country (e.g. India) because of my place of departure. Do I get money back?

Can you prove that you would have stayed in the country where the flight is going? For example, do you have a hotel reservation or a return flight from there? Then tell the airline and try to argue that the basis of the contract has been dropped. Therefore, ask for a refund of the ticket price.


Many airlines offer at least a free rebooking in such a case anyway. This means that you will receive a voucher and can use it for a later booking. Please ask your airline!


 
17. I just booked a plane ticket. I am allowed to enter the country where I was supposed to fly to, but due to the place of departure I have to go into quarantine for several days immediately. Can I get a refund?

This is currently still legally unclear, as the flight itself could be operated by the airline.


Ask the airline whether they at least offer you a free rebooking. This means that you will receive a voucher and can use it for a later booking.


Certain taxes and fees are also refunded by an airline in the event of a chargeable cancellation, although this is often very little.


 
18. I have only booked accommodation (hotel, apartment). I am supposed to travel within the next 7 days, but I don't want to because of the danger of infection. Can I cancel free of charge?

 
It basically depends on the law of the state where the hotel is located. If the destination is suddenly very much affected by the virus, so that it is unreasonable to spend your holiday there, try to argue that the basis of the contract has ceased to exist and you can therefore withdraw free of charge.

 
In Austria and Italy this is regulated in this way. If it is different in the country where you are supposed to go, ask for a voucher so that you can go there on holiday another time. Companies are more willing to accept this than to refunding.

 
As long as there is an order that you are only allowed to leave the house if there are good reasons, the following applies: Argue with the fact that due to this order of the Austrian government it is not possible to travel to the holiday destination here. There is therefore no longer a basis for the transaction and you do not owe a cancellation fee.


 
19. I have only booked accommodation (hotel, apartment). I should travel within the next 7 days. But the accommodation is not accessible at all, because one is not allowed to enter this place; there are roadblocks. Can I cancel free of charge?

That depends on the law of the state where the hotel is located.

 
In Austria and Italy it is regulated in such a way that such contracts lose their validity. You do not owe a cancellation fee, a deposit will be returned to you.

 


20. I have only booked accommodation (hotel, apartment). I am supposed to travel in a few weeks/months. Can I cancel free of charge?


Check the booking conditions. Many hotels can be cancelled free of charge or at low cost anyway until shortly before arrival.

 
If this is not the case with your booking, you will have to wait and see how things develop. Shortly before (approx. 1 week) there may be a free right of cancellation under certain circumstances. This depends on the law of the country where the hotel is located. (See information above).
 

 
21. I have taken out cancellation insurance. Does this help me if, for example, I don't want to travel because I am worried about catching the corona virus at my destination?

No, a cancellation insurance would usually only cover the cancellation costs if you suddenly become seriously ill at home, a close relative dies, your house burns down, etc. (see insurance conditions).


As a precaution, please check your specific insurance conditions.


 
22. I'm afraid to be quarantined at the resort. I don't want to spend my whole vacation locked up in a hotel or on a cruise ship. Can I cancel free of charge?

No, that's pure speculation. Only if the destination 1 week before departure is already very much affected by the virus, one can withdraw from the package tour free of charge.

 
 
23. Who pays for the extra hotel nights if I am quarantined at my holiday destination?

That depends on the law of the state where it happens. In some countries, the respective state bears the costs, at least partially. In Austria, the legal situation as to who ultimately has to pay for such costs and to what extent is not clearly clarified.  
 

So far we do not know of anyone who has been asked to pay.


If this does happen, tell the hotel operator or tour operator to claim the costs from the respective state that imposed the quarantine. If necessary, state on the invoice "payment subject to legal clarification and recovery".

 


24. The situation at my holiday resort is relatively quiet at the moment, but maybe the rules change while I'm there. I'm worried I'll have to be quarantined at home afterwards. Can I cancel for free?

No.
 
 
25. I was quarantined at home in Austria. Therefore, I can not start my booked journey now. Who will reimburse my cancellation fees?

We don't know that for sure. It could be that the State of Austria will bear the costs for you. Please contact the Bezirkshauptmannschaft of your place of residence or, in Vienna, the respective Magistratisches Bezirksamt.


 
26. What happens if I am quarantined at my holiday resort or at home and therefore cannot go to work? Do I have to take extra days off? Will I continue to receive my salary?

Please contact the Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer) for answers to these questions.

 


27. My children should spend a trip abroad with school or a ski course etc. in Austria. Are school trips allowed?

Please contact the Ministry of Education or the School Council of your province, the Vienna City School Council.

 

 
28. Do I have to pay a cancellation fee if the school cancels a school trip on its own initiative?

The legal situation in this case has not yet been finally clarified. In our opinion, there are already arguments for not having to pay a cancellation fee. Unfortunately, we cannot assess the chances of success here.


Perhaps the Ministry of Education or the school board of your federal state or the Vienna City School Board can tell you more.

 

29. What about my trip after “Matura” - the school leaving examination, as the exams have now been postponed? Can we therefore postpone the trip or cancel it free of charge, even if everything is quiet again at the holiday destination until the date of the trip?

 From a legal point of view, we believe it is decisive whether the Matura trip is a package tour - usually booked with organisers who offer their own packages - or whether the respective class has organised a Matura trip itself and individually.

 


If the trip has been planned by the class itself, there will usually be no possibility to postpone or cancel the trip free of charge if this is not offered by the companies out of goodwill. In these cases, the fact that the trip is a "Matura trip" was never part of the contract and the contracting parties were not aware of this. If I cannot start the trip as planned due to the postponement of the Matura, this is my responsibility. This concerns individual flight and hotel bookings, but also package tours which I have booked myself apart from the "Matura travel organisers". If these organizers did not know that you book as a class for Matura travel, you cannot object to this reason in retrospect.

 


If the trip has been booked as a class for school-leaving exams through specialized spring break or Maturareise tour operators, we recommend contacting them and asking what solution is offered. In our opinion, the purpose of the trip is the "celebration after the Matura". This is known to the organiser and has been advertised by them - it is therefore subject matter of the contract. If the Matura is postponed, it should therefore not be the students' risk that the trip cannot take place as planned.
 


30. I have booked a hotel in an Austrian ski resort. The ski lifts there are now closed while I should be there. Can I cancel free of charge?

Basically: If you booked hotel room + ski pass as a package tour, yes. Then the contract cannot be fulfilled.

 
However, if you only booked accommodation and the hotel is accessible (!), then you have no legal claim to withdraw free of charge. In this case, the fact that you actually wanted to ski there and not, for example, to go on a wellness holiday, do cross-country skiing or hiking, is not part of the contract with the hotel/landlord.


If you have already purchased a ski pass, but now all lifts are closed, you are entitled to a refund of the ski pass price.
 

However, as long as there is a government order that you are only allowed to leave the house if there are good reasons, you argue as follows: Since this government order, it is not possible to travel to the resort. There is therefore no longer a basis for the transaction and you do not owe a cancellation fee.

 
If this government order no longer applies, ask if it is possible receive a voucher for a stay in the next season for your processed payment.

 


31. I have bought tickets for an event (sports, music, theatre, etc.) This has now been cancelled. Can I get my money back?

This depends on the law of the country where the match, concert etc. should have taken place. 


For events in Austria, we believe you have the right to claim back the ticket price.
To do so, write an e-mail to the organizer and the company where you bought the tickets, if it was not the organizer himself.

 


32. How dangerous is the Corona virus? How can you protect yourself?

Please refer to the AGES website or emergency hotline for these questions.

 
Infoline Coronavirus for health issues: 0800 555 621


 
33. Where can I get tested and who pays for it? 

Your doctor decides whether a test is useful, laboratory results are available within hours. In case of symptoms, stay in areas of high prevalence and contact with SARS2-CoV2 infected persons, the state pays the costs of the test.


If you fear to be ill, stay at home and call 1450.

 


34. Are there travel warnings for areas within Austria?

No, but certain areas in Austria have been quarantined, as has the province of Tyrol as a whole. On this page of the Ministry of Health you can see the virus spread within Austria.

 
For Tyrol there is a separate 24-hour hotline: 0800 80 80 30

 
The list of restricted areas within Austria can be found on the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs under the heading "Quarantine measures in certain areas".

 
 
35. I'm supposed to go abroad in the next 7 days. The State Department recommends refraining from all unnecessary travel. Therefore, can I cancel any trip, wherever it is, whatever the contract, free of charge?

 
We can certainly not promise you that. It may depend on details of the individual case.


Try to object to the tour operator / the transport company / the hotel that due to this recommendation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the basis of the contract has ceased to exist and that you therefore wish to cancel or rebook free of charge.

 

 
ALREADY ABROAD

(questions 36-42)

 

36. I am in a country that has a level 6 travel warning due to the coronavirus and want to go back to Austria. Can I be prohibited from doing so? Or do I have to be safely quarantined?

Currently, Austrian citizens and persons who have their residence in Austria are not prohibited from entering Austria.


 
However, you will be tested to see whether you are infected with the coronavirus and must spend 14 days at home in self-monitored home quarantine. You will then not be allowed to leave your home.

 
 
37. I am already abroad and had only booked a flight/train/bus/ship How do I get home?
 
VERY IMPORTANT: Please register on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs!
 
This is very important so that authorities can contact you if you have no possibility to get back to Austria. Check your e-mails including spam folders and your SMS regularly. Maybe they try to call you to organize a return journey.
 
Check what the airline or train, bus or shipping company writes to you about your booked route on their website or in an e-mail. Often rebookings for other flights/trips to return to home are offered due to the coronavirus situation. Hotlines are currently often overstrained - hence the way to the Internet.
 
If you can't get information this way, contact the Austrian embassy/consulate responsible for your destination country.
 

If you are not able to get any further information, contact the Citizens' Service of the Foreign Ministry. This service supports Austrians in emergencies abroad 24/7 by calling +43 190 115 - 4411.

 
38. I am already abroad and had booked a package tour. The transport company has now cancelled the return trip on its own initiative.  How do I get home?
 
Please make sure you register on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs!
 

This is very important so that authorities can contact you if you have no possibility to fly/ drive back to Austria.

 
Please contact the tour guide on site. Write to the tour operator and if necessary to the travel agency.

 
If there is still a possibility to travel back to Austria from your holiday destination, ask the tour operator or their local tour guide to book this return trip for you. It is best to do this in writing, setting a deadline and stating that you will otherwise be forced to book this return transport yourself and that you are reserving the right to reimbursement of costs. 

 
If you are unable to return home and cannot reach the tour operator, please contact the Austrian Embassy/Consulate responsible for the country you are travelling to.

 
If you are not able to make progress, please contact the Citizens' Service of the Foreign Ministry. This service supports Austrians in case of emergencies abroad
every day around the clock by calling +43 190 115 - 4411.

 
 
39. I am already abroad and had booked a package tour. Because of the coronavirus, I want to go home early. May I? Who pays for it?
 
If there is suddenly a high risk on site, the organiser should bear the costs of a return journey. You also have the right to terminate the trip prematurely, as there would also be a right to withdraw from a forthcoming trip in case of danger at the holiday location.
 
Ask the travel agency, the tour operator or its local tour guide to book an earlier trip home for you. It is best to do this in writing, setting a deadline and stating when you will otherwise be forced to book this return transport yourself and reserving the right to reimbursement of costs.

 


40. I am abroad, to whom do I generally turn with inquiries or problems?


If you need help abroad because of the coronavirus, you should contact the competent Austrian embassy. On the website of the embassy you will also find the respective 24-hour on-call number. The embassy's medical officer is responsible for medical assistance (also available on the website).

 
The app of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs contains all contact details of Austrian representations worldwide.

 
At the headquarters in Vienna, the Citizens' Service is responsible. Austrians living abroad should always contact the respective embassy first.
The Citizens' Service of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs provides support in emergencies abroad around the clock every day by calling +43 190 115 – 4411


 
41. I'm currently abroad. The Foreign Office strongly advises you to make use of any return travel arrangements that may still be available. Do I have to go back? At my expense?
 
If you wish to stay abroad, for example because you have relatives or a second home there, you may do so to our knowledge. For further questions please contact the Foreign Ministry. We cannot tell you for how long and where you can be supported with regard to a later return home.
 

Austrians who want to go home and are in a place where this is still possible (e.g. by train instead of by plane) are urgently requested by the Foreign Ministry to organize such a trip home themselves.


Unfortunately, some details regarding the costs of an earlier return journey have not yet been clarified. At the moment, the primary goal is to support all people who want to go home but cannot, as far as possible. Please have understanding for this!

 


42. I'm already abroad. Will I get my money back from the transport company because they cancelled my return trip or do I have to accept a voucher?
  

You will get your money back if the airline or the train, bus or shipping company cancelled the return trip on their own initiative.

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