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Covid-19Safety instructions at the airport
© Flughafen Wien AG

Safely through Vienna

If you want to play it safe when planning your trip, you could, for example, take your cue from the "Safe Travel" seal. It is awarded by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), a non-profit organization based in London that advances sustainable and integrated growth in the private travel and tourism sector. The WTTC uses the seal to highlight vacation destinations that meet specific health and hygiene guidelines. Vienna is one such place. The Austrian capital has implemented the corresponding requirements and is therefore considered a safe travel destination.

That begins at the airport, continues in the city, and, as you would expect, also covers cultural institutions such as, for example, museums. But first things first.

Safe arrival
Vienna International Airport at Schwechat, for example, was an early signatory to the charter of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which contains numerous recommended safety measures for dealing with COVID-19. So, for example, passengers, meeters and greeters, and employees are required to wear a face covering everywhere inside the terminal area. A minimum distance of one meter must also be kept, with regular reference to this being made with floor markings, signs, and announcements. Check-in, boarding and information counters are fitted with protective perspex screens, and numerous hand disinfectant points have been installed throughout the entire terminal area.

All arriving passengers now also have their body temperature measured fully automatically by thermal imaging cameras. On their way to the baggage reclaim area, travelers walk past a camera system that detects their body temperature. If a high temperature is recorded, a public health officer will perform a personal examination, ask for details about the journey so far and any symptoms, and take further steps as required. A molecular COVID-19 PCR test can also be carried out at the airport, with the results being ready in a just a few hours. "We're well prepared all round," says airport spokesperson Peter Kleeman.

Safe stay
Safety is also the name of the game when checking in at Vienna's accommodation providers. Because the Vienna Economic Chambers and the Vienna Tourist Board have worked together to develop the "Safe Stay" safety seal in order to support the accommodation providers with the implementation of higher safety and quality standards. An all-round carefree package that ensures you can really relax in the designated hotels across the city (look out for the poster at the hotel entrance!).

High hygiene standards on the subway, buses, and trams
The Wiener Linien are also well prepared. Subways, buses, and trams have been operating with the usual frequency again since May 30, and night buses are also running again. To prevent passengers from infecting one another wherever possible, face coverings must be worn in all vehicles and in the subways stations from the validation points heading towards the platforms. Only children under six years of age and people who are unable to wear a face mask for health reasons are excluded from this. All vehicles are deep cleaned on daily basis. Furthermore, all stations as well as surfaces that passengers come into contact with are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected daily, including handles, handrails, and seats.

Safe travel by taxi
If you prefer to ride in one of the city's 4,600 or so taxis instead of on public transport, you can also calmly climb aboard one. After the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, transparent partitions were installed between the first and second rows of seats to protect the guests and drivers. The requirement to wear a mask continues to apply to all occupants if more than two people are sitting in a row. The taxis are regularly disinfected, too. "The reaction of passengers has been entirely positive. The measures provide a sense of safety," says group managing director Johann Adensamer. Some of the measures could outlast coronavirus, but nothing is set in stone yet.

Bruegel with and without a mask
And because a trip to Vienna is pretty much impossible without a visit to a museum, we also take a look at an institution that is world-renowned for its splendor and beauty, for the collection of valuable paintings at any rate: the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna (KHM). Here as well, disinfectant is available everywhere and cleaning is carried out more frequently. "Complying with the minimum safety distance is currently not a problem," says KHM spokesperson Sara Aistleitner. "Where people used to stand in line there's now lots of space – a super opportunity to discover the building and its treasures without the stress or crowds." Pieter Bruegel's The Tower of Babel, for example. You can buy tickets online. There are also audio guides, which are cleaned afterwards. "You don't have to wear a mask if you don't want to. Unless you book a guided tour. You should wear a mask for that," says Aistleitner. But even then you should make sure that not too many people huddle together.

Disinfection at the airport
© Flughafen Wien AG
Evening cleaning at Praterstern
© Johannes Zinner
Cleaning of a subway station
© Norberg Geiter
Taxi with reference to disinfection
© Fachgruppe Wien der Beförderungsgewerbe mit PKW
Theseus with mask at the Kunsthistorisches Museum
© KHM-Museumsverband