Christmas Markets & Health Regulations in 2020

The Christmas markets in Austria’s major cities are still being held during the Advent period of 2020. But the Austrian government has issued strict health regulations for visitors and organisers as part of the corona virus regulations.

Social Distancing

The general safety regulations of keeping one metre distance from another person applies in Christmas markets (the infamous Austrian ‘baby elephant’). Groups of more than six adults who do not live in the same household (plus a maximum of six children) are not allowed.

Some Christmas markets may also restrict the amount of visitors at any one time during busy periods and/or have systems in place to control the movement flow.

Some related events, such as the Lumagica illuminations in the Imperial Gardens in Innsbruck, will be ticketed for specific days to enable control of visitor numbers.

Face Protection

Visitors to Christmas markets must wear a mouth-nose protection (mask) for the duration of their visit, apart from when they are eating and drinking at a food stand. Employees at the Christmas markets are also obliged to wear similar protection unless they are separated from the public by a physical barrier (for example, a Plexiglass window).

Note that in Austria clear plastic masks which do not touch the face will be classed as insufficient protection from 07 November 2020.

Food & Drink

The traditional Glühwein and punch stands, plus any serving other drinks and food, have their own restrictions.

It will still be possible for visitors to drink a mulled wine or munch on a sausage while standing, but this must still be within the area of the stand which has sold it. The standing area also cannot be near the area where the food and drink is being distributed or paid for. Otherwise, visitors must sit at a table.

Local regulations may require registration at restaurants and bars, via app or manually, to enable contact tracing if necessary. (At the time of writing, in the provinces of Vienna, Salzburg, Tirol, Upper Austria, and parts of Lower Austria.)

Visitors will not be permitted to move around the Christmas market with food and drink purchased from stands.

Hours of Operation

In general, at the time of writing, the official national closing time is set at 01.00 (nowhere near usual Christmas market opening times). However, some local councils and state governments have introduced their own earlier official closing times.

More information: www.sichere-gastfreundschaft.at (German only) and www.austria.info