Austria’s politicians, above all the Federal Minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, Rudolf Anschober (Greens), make the entry and quarantine chaos perfect. The recognition that there has been from large parts of the population and abroad for the strict implementation of the contact restrictions and the further measures to effectively contain the COVID 19 pandemic is currently being largely squandered again when it comes to whether Austrians will be allowed to travel to one of their favourite holiday destinations, namely Croatia, again.
Let us summarise:
The so-called quarantine regulation was extended from 31 May to 15 June at the last minute, just before Whitsun. At that time many Austrians had already prepared themselves for Pentecost on the Adriatic and packed their bags. Also many Austrian restaurateurs, especially in the tourist regions, were already looking forward to guests, among others from Germany. Especially those from Bavaria, one of the most populous federal states with a two-week Whitsun holiday, traditionally like to use the time off from school in the mountains and at the lakes of Austria
Borders open – or not?
Then the media reported that the government had announced that border controls to neighbouring countries, including Slovenia, would be discontinued. An end to the controls at the Slovenian-Austrian border would mean, according to the wording, that there would be no more controls when entering Austria from Slovenia. As is well known, however, it is not possible to enter Austria directly from Croatia, as there is no common border. And if Austria opens to Slovenia, the Slovenes to Croatia (as communicated by the politicians), then this should mean with common sense that one can also travel from Croatia to Austria without any problems. Only in politics it seems to be different.
Entry chaos to Austria continues
Then came the new regulation which literally said:
1. after § 4a the following § 4b is inserted:
§4b. (1) This Regulation shall not apply to persons entering Austria from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary or Slovenia and having their residence or habitual abode in one of these States.
(2) Furthermore, this Regulation shall not apply to Austrian citizens or persons who have their residence or habitual abode in Austria and who enter Austria from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary or Slovenia.
(3) The persons covered by paras. 1 and 2 must provide prima facie evidence that they have not been resident in any state other than Austria or the aforementioned neighbouring states for the last 14 days.
How to provide credible evidence?
The persons mentioned in paragraphs 1 and 2 must provide prima facie evidence at the border that they are not entering from Croatia but from Slovenia. The question that arises is: How are they supposed to establish this and to whom, if, according to government representatives, there are no controls at all? Croatia’s Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli put it in a nutshell: “Everyone apparently wants to protect their economic interests!
SeaHelp can only communicate facts. In plain language, this means that whoever crosses the border from Slovenia to Austria is supposedly not checked. That is why he cannot provide any credible evidence anywhere, as the regulation requires. If, contrary to what has been announced, he is checked after all, the official at the border has discretionary powers as to whether or not he accepts the traveller’s details. Legal uncertainty for Austrians who have visited Slovenia, incomprehensible to border control officers. Everyone must ultimately decide for themselves how they feel about the return journey. If necessary, however, the quarantine can still be shortened quickly and safely with a COVID 19 test.
German border guards experienced Austrian opening from the media
And the ‘concerted practice with neighbouring countries’, such as Germany, did not take place in the first place. In Germany, border guards first had to learn from the media that Austria had opened its borders. Austrians went to Germany and were sent back to Austria. People are already eagerly waiting for the next act of the political possessiveness about the entry regulations. It is to be hoped that the immigration issue will finally come to an end after 15 June. That is when the relevant regulation – as it stands today – will cease to apply. However, no binding statement can yet be made in this regard.