Coronavirus - Guidelines for Entering Sports Facilities and Fitness Centres in Austria

Lifestyle & TravelMore+ ♦ Published: May 20, 2020; 08:56 ♦ (Vindobona)

With immediate effect, many recreational facilities are subject to numerous relaxations, but entering and using sports facilities is not yet fully possible again. So what is allowed?

Message for all hobby tennis players: Doubles are now possible, but only if the prescribed minimum distance of 2 metres is observed. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Yann Caradec / CC BY-SA (

An amendment to the COVID-19 relaxation regulation has resulted in the lifting or reduction of bans on entry in other areas of public life.

Which sports facilities may already be used again by consumers?

Sports facilities are defined as facilities that are intended exclusively or predominantly for physical activity and for competition or training (e.g. sports hall, sports field, special facilities for individual sports), including facilities, buildings and premises used for the operation of the facility or for preparing for the use of the facility.

At present, sports facilities may not be entered in principle.

However, there are exceptions to this rule:

Operation in non-public sports facilities is possible for top athletes and professional footballers and their coaches or trainers.

All other athletes may use sports facilities in the open air, provided that the sports involved are sports in which a distance of at least two metres can typically be maintained between the participants.

All sports facilities may be entered for outdoor sports if a distance of two metres is maintained.

The distance regulation does not apply if the persons live in the same household.

There is no restriction on the number of persons.

This applies to athletes as well as their (commercial) trainers and coaches.

In any case, sports facilities in the sense of the Covid-19 relaxation regulation are considered to be sports facilities:

  • Outdoor areas of fitness facilities
  • Railway golf courses
  • Archery facilities
  • Air sports facilities
  • Golf courses
  • High Ropes Courses
  • Go-cart tracks
  • Kitesurf-/Waterskiing facilities
  • Climbing gardens
  • Athletics facilities
  • (Mountain)Bike Parks
  • Motocross Tracks
  • Rafting/canyoning companies (in their own, constructed water channel; on public waters § 1 applies)
  • Riding facilities/riding operations
  • Shooting ranges
  • Sailing schools (for the training courses mentioned in § 5 para. 1 no. 3 the regulations mentioned there apply)
  • Stock sport facilities
  • Tennis courts

Indoor areas of the sports facility (e.g. cloakrooms) may only be entered if this is necessary for the practice of sports in the open air.

Message for all hobby tennis players: Doubles are now possible, but only if the prescribed minimum distance of 2 metres is observed.

After the Austrian Tennis Association ÖTV had intensively lobbied the Federal Ministry of Sports to approve the doubles match, the official "green light" was given on 20 May.

The new passage in the rules of conduct (Spielbetrieb Outdoor, point 2) now reads as follows:

"It is recommended to initially play only in pairs. When playing in groups of four, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that persons who do not live in a shared apartment group maintain the prescribed minimum distance (2 m).

According to the Federal Ministry of Sport, playing doubles in competitions remains prohibited until further notice because the minimum distance cannot be maintained permanently when fighting for every point.

The Ministry of Sports also specified what is considered an outdoor sports facility: All those covered buildings that can be opened completely on at least three sides for the practice of sports.

Are there repayment obligations for memberships in fitness studios if customers prematurely terminate their membership due to official closure?

Contracts can also be terminated extraordinarily under certain circumstances.

However, there must be an important reason that makes the continuation of the contractual relationship unacceptable for the parties and that is caused by the behaviour of the contractual partner. These prerequisites are unlikely to exist in the given context.

Is the gym allowed to debit the amount for the months in which it is closed?

The contractually guaranteed services cannot be carried out at present due to the closures ordered by the authorities. Neither the fitness center nor the customer is responsible for these closures.

As a rule, the contractual basis will not provide for anything in this case. Moreover, such provisions are not uncontroversial, as they create a regulation at the expense of the consumer. An enforcement is therefore questionable.

Therefore, it is correct that the customer does not have to pay any remuneration for the duration of the official closure or has to get back an already paid (aliquot).

If customers are entitled to the lost time of membership in the fitness studio, does the time of the official closure have to be added to the original contract period?

An amicable extension of the contract period is in any case permissible. An obligation to do so only if this has been expressly agreed.

Is an online training a valid substitute for the lost hours in the studio?

In the case of consumer business, only such rights of modification for the performance in GTC (AGB) are binding, which are reasonable for the customer, especially because they are objectively justified and minor.

These reservations would have to be as precise and concrete as possible in order to be legally effective.

These conditions will not be given with the existing GTC agreed with the customers in view of a complete discontinuation of offline training.

If the scope of the contract includes, for example, the possibility of online training in addition to the training in the studio, then those that have already been created and are still available, for example, on the gym's homepage, can still be offered. An online/video training from inside and outside of the business premises is permitted as long as no more than five people, including the employees, are present and the safety precautions (distance of at least 1 meter within the team and to the persons filmed) are observed.

However, it cannot be assumed that this would mean that the remuneration would have to be paid as for the usual overall performance, because the reduced performance is no longer in adequate proportion to the consideration for an "offline".