COVID-19 in Austria: Concerns About Transition to 2.5G Rule in Workplace

More+Work & Careers ♦ Published: November 3, 2021; 13:23 ♦ (Vindobona)

Due to increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Austria is considering transitioning from the 3G rule in the workplace to a 2.5G rule in the coming weeks. Some government officials are expressing concerns about the implementation of this change. Read about the potential requirement change and the concerns that some have about it.

Chairwoman of the Federal Section for Trade and Crafts in the WKÖ: "Sending skilled workers home who have not been vaccinated is not an option in light of the glaring shortage of skilled workers." / Picture: © Magistrat der Stadt Wien / Christian Jobst / PID

Austria recently implemented a COVID-19 3G requirement (vaccinated, recovered, or tested) in the workplace, as was previously reported by

However, due to increased cases and hospitalizations, the country is already considering moving to a 2.5G requirement, which only allows for results from PCR tests and not the less accurate antigen tests.

While many are supportive of these measures as a means of boosting the vaccination rate and improving workplace safety, some officials are expressing concerns about the availability of COVID-19 testing, the potential timeline, and the shortage of skilled workers.

According to reporting by Vorarlberg Online, the head of the Carinthian Chamber of Commerce, Jürgen Mandl, is worried that the potential 2.5G start date (15 November) announced by Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein does not provide enough time for companies and the state governments to prepare to implement the policy change.

Mandl points to the fact that many companies just purchased thousands of antigen tests to implement the 3G rule and that roughly 17,000 people commute daily from Slovenia and Italy to work in Carinthia as factors that must be considered.

He says that that the government should, therefore, consider moving the deadline for the 2.5G workplace requirement to mid-December before penalizing companies.

On the other hand, Renate Scheichelbauer-Schuster, Chairwoman of the Federal Section for Trade and Crafts in the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKÖ), agrees with the government’s strategy and 15 November deadline, but she is concerned about the availability of testing and the shortage of skilled workers.

Scheichelbauer-Schuster said, “The Austrian trade and craft sector fully supports the efforts of the federal government to increase the vaccination rate, as this is the only way to prevent another lockdown.”

She continued, “Nevertheless, it is imperative that non-vaccinated persons–regardless of where they live or work–can take a free PCR test. Sending skilled workers home who have not been vaccinated is not an option in light of the glaring shortage of skilled workers. We need every worker in our plants to honor contracts with customers and keep the recovery we’ve started going.”

Scheichelbauer-Schuster thanked Federal Minister Margarete Schramböck for creating the legal framework to allow PCR tests to be dispensed outside drugstores and pharmacies.

However, she said that “this cannot replace the essential prerequisite that the free delivery, collection, and evaluation of PCR tests must be ensured for all of Austria in a timely and comprehensive manner.”

Chairwoman Scheichelbauer-Schuster also feels that the announced 14-day transition period will be sufficient and implored the federal states and municipalities to use the time to prepare for the change.

She said, “I, therefore, appeal to the states, but also to the municipalities, to use the time to ensure sufficient PCR testing facilities in the workplace. Businesses want to implement 3G in the workplace in a responsible manner. However, a possible tightening with 2.5G requires appropriate framework conditions quickly in order not to pose major challenges to companies, employees, and workers.”

The head of the private workers’ union (GPA), Barbara Teiber, reportedly shared Scheichelbauer-Schuster’s view of the need for an expansion of PCR testing and called for a transparent timetable. She said, “If employees are to be tested on Monday morning, then you must have the uncomplicated possibility of PCR testing on Saturday.”

There will be a meeting on 5 November between the federal government and the governors of the federal states in which the transition from the 3G workplace requirement to the 2.5G will be a major topic of discussion.

Austrian Chamber of Commerce

Vorarlberg Online