General Corona Virus Information

Information and instructions

Dear members of the IST community,

we want to provide you with the most current information on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and related prevention measures put in place by the institute. Obviously, as the situation can change continuously and quickly, we will update this information whenever needed.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease we are closely monitoring the global and national developments and strictly follow recommendations and instructions we receive from the Austrian government. A task force coordinates all efforts and plans for contingencies in case future developments would disrupt critical Institute functions.

We try to follow a balanced approach by mitigating the risk of a virus spread as much as possible while keeping this campus productive at the same time. In doing this we need your support! Please take the time to read the information and instructions provided here. In case of questions please contact Susanne in EHS (ext. 1087 or 2244).

The health and well-being of the members of our community are our top priority and these measures are being put in place to reduce risk for ourselves and each other. We are aware that this situation not only affects the operations on campus, but the lives of all of us. For many of you, the steps we are taking to protect the health of the community may involve significant inconvenience. However, it is in the best interest for all of us.

We thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this special situation!

Protective measures

The virus can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth.

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, nose
  • Maintain social distancing
  • And again: Stay home if you feel sick

The use of mouth-nose-masks is strongly recommended. They can be ordered via e-ISTOS from the central storage store.

Update October 27

Masks are mandatory in all public spaces which are not open air (i.e. also pedestrian passages or train stations) as in all shops and markets. Transparent shields are prohibited as of November 7.

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The current working rules can be found here: operational rules

In case you belong to a risk group and got a notification letter by the public health insurance, please get in touch with Beata, our occupational physician (physician@ist.ac.at) for the specific steps then.

Ventilation:

On campus we only have fresh air ventilation systems. The fresh air is filtered in 2 steps to also reduce aerosols. In all labs we have high performance cross-flow heat exchangers. For the offices high performance rotary heat exchangers are in use.

Nevertheless regularly open the windows of your office is a good habit (but please do not keep them tilted and they should be closed before leaving).

Card reader at Cafeteria (Update October 19):

The province of Lower Austria requires restaurants to collect data of their patrons if the infection risk in a district is assessed as high (indicated with the color orange). As this is the case you are required starting today to swipe your IST Austria access card over the data reader at the entrance to the cafeteria in order to record your data and to enable the tracing of possible contacts should an infection occur. For external patrons without access cards the two tables to the left of the entrance have been designated and will be reserved accordingly.

Travel

Please check the information of the ministry of foreign affairs on travel restrictions https://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/travel-stay/travel-warnings/ carefully before booking and actually going on a business trip. Important: The status of the country or of a specific region within the country can change at short notice.

Private travel: when going on private trips please make sure you have informed yourself about all travel and re-entry restrictions to Austria due to the Covid-19 situation and plan your vacation accordingly. In case you are in doubt please talk to your supervisor and/or HR. For private travel we highly recommend to check in advance the insurance coverage with your travel insurance company.

Update October 27 , 2020
Inbound travel: Numerous European countries are updating their travel alert status. Therefore, please double-check the currently valid regulations before you travel any place. While entry from Austria is most likely not prohibited it does entail the proof of recent tests and/or quarantine periods.

Outbound travel: The Covid risk status of all countries and specific regions can be found on the homepage of the Austrian Foreign Ministry: https://www.bmeia.gv.at/reise-aufenthalt/reisewarnungen/. The status of the country or of a specific region within the country can change at short notice. 

Due to the dynamic development of travel restrictions by authorities in Austria and abroad it is advisable to thoroughly check every travel plan irrespective of the risk status homepage mentioned above. 

Important markers for the application of the current travel regulations are citizenship and/or habitual residence on the one hand and origin of travel on the other hand:

  1. Free to enter Austria without any test or quarantine are people arriving from a safe country or region, basically the EU except Romania and areas in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Portugal and Spain. Outside of the EU a number of countries are free to enter from like Australia, Japan, Canada and the UK. For details see foreign ministry link above. 10 days quarantine plus a PCR test (if negative, then the quarantine is terminated) if entering from high-risk countries like Egypt, Serbia, Israel, Turkey or the US. For details see foreign ministry link.
  2. EU residents entering Austria coming from a risk country or region may enter only with a negative PCR test from an approved lab not older then 72 hours at the time of arrival. Arriving without a test necessitates a PCR test within 48 hours. This period has to be spent in quarantine which is lifted in case of a negative result. Taking no test or having a positive result results in a mandatory 10-day quarantine.
  3. Non-EU residents arriving from a EU/Schengen area country (plus among other European countries Ireland and the UK) are required to present a negative PCR test not older then 72 hours upon arrival and to go into 10-day home quarantine which cannot be cut with a PCR test.
  4. For any non-EU residents arriving from outside the EU or the Schengen area entry into Austria is prohibited. Very limited exceptions for e.g. family affairs apply.

If your citizenship or residential status falls in category 3. or 4. below or you are not sure please contact International Officer Vlad Cozac (vlad.cozac@ist.ac.at) or the EHS team (ehs@lists.ist.ac.at) who will assist you with your travel plans.

Events

Events on campus are either online or take place in hybrid mode.

This includes various lectures, school visits and other major public events.

All classes requiring personal presence are only held in small groups until further notice.  

Student Information

The Graduate School Website had made it’s own COVID-19 Information page, which collects status updates for students, a FAQ-page and a guideline-PDF that offers recommendations on teaching and courses, research, exams, remote work, as well as general recommendations in times of COVID-19.

Form more information please see the Graduate School’s website.

Working remotely

Our IT services are prepared to provide remote support in case you need assistance. (it@ist.ac.at, +4322439000 1300)

For more information please see the comprehensive guide Working remotely. (There is also a Quick start available.)

Insurance

As a general rule working from home should always be approved by your supervisor in advance. If you are working remotely from home in Austria, then your existing insurance will continue to be upright and you don’t need to do anything else.

Also as a general rule, if you would like to work remotely from abroad, you always need to check back with HR upon obtaining the approval of your supervisor because HR needs to verify the request from various legal point of views. After completion of the verification you will be notified by HR if the request meets all legal requirements or if there are any restrictions due to different legal regulations.

In case if you are stuck abroad due to the current pandemic and if you are working remotely from abroad please see below the regulations with regards to your insurance:

1) EU, EEA countries, Switzerland and UK

If someone is stuck in another EU or EEA country and Switzerland they are still covered within the Austrian social security system. The UK is also included to this coverage until December 31, 2020 according to the current legal information.

Someone who has been employed in Austria for one year can request an e-card with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) on the back (before that, it is filled in with asterisks only) and it is a proof of insurance within the EU for visiting contracted doctors and contracted hospitals. If someone does not yet have an EHIC on the back of their e-card, they can request a temporary certificate as a substitution for the EHIC from the ÖGK.

If the contracted doctors or contracted hospitals shouldn’t accept the EHIC than please pay the invoices abroad and ask for reimbursement at the ÖGK in Austria upon return. The ÖGK verifies if a cost replacement is possible. Please note that up to maximum 80 % of the costs that have occurred can get replaced by the ÖGK. Furthermore the verification of the costs are based on a comparable sickness treatment that would have been provided in Austria.

The invoice has to be readable and comprehensible and must include the following information:

•         Name and address of the doctor/ hospital

•         Name and social insurance number of the patient (see e-card)

•         Detailed description of the medical services performed and diagnosis

•         Statement of the fee as well as separate statement of any additional costs for medications and medical aids

•         Separate statement of taxes and dues

•         Place and date of service provision

•         Signature and stamp of the treating doctor

•         Date of invoice

•         In case of local cash payment, please ensure a receipt for the paid amount to be is issued (“received in cash”). Otherwise you have to attach a payment confirmation (e.g. a bank statement).

2) Third countries

Outside of the European area including Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and UK until December 31, 2020 or in case of utilization of a non-statutory health insurance-accredited doctor of your choice, the costs for treatment on the part of the employee must be paid at the doctor’s locally and directly by the employee.

For the refunding of the costs paid locally, a readable and comprehensible invoice is requested (with all the details described above and in original version).

3) Business trip accident and health insurance of IST

Generally speaking, if someone travels for private premises, the business trip insurance of IST does not apply anyway, independent of the current situation. If someone has indeed traveled somewhere as a business trip and is now stuck there and cannot come back to Austria, then the Business trip insurance is applicable and will cover most expenses (that is, on top of the statutory insurance).

Information regarding teleworking for Admin/SSU staff

Update on October 2, 2020: The handling and measures set out below will be extended under the same conditions until January 31, 2021. Kindly note that this measure is taken on a voluntary basis and at the sole discretion of the Institute without any legal entitlement. It will not constitute to a legal entitlement to the same or similar measure in the future. As of February 1, 2021 the teleworking guideline of the Institute will come into force again.

Update on August 6, 2020: The handling and measures set out below will be extended under the same conditions until October 31, 2020. Kindly note that this measure is taken on a voluntary basis and at the sole discretion of the Institute without any legal entitlement. It will not constitute to a legal entitlement to the same or similar measure in the future. As of November 1, 2020 the teleworking guideline of the Institute will come into force again.

Working flexibly from home will still be supported based on approval by supervisors to reduce overall presence on campus. The extend of teleworking needs to be discussed and approved by the supervisor in advance and can exceed the currently valid guideline for teleworking (one day a week).

Please continue to follow the time management handling mentioned below:

  • Please record your working hours as usual in dpw and choose in the field absence “Home Office” if you work from home. If you work on Campus just record your working hours as usual.
  • There is no need to record hours for childcare duties arising from the closure of schools and kindergartens. See Information for employees with childcare duties below.  
  • If your child is sick and you cannot work please inform your supervisor and hr.administration@ist.ac.at. This is regarded as a “normal” care exemption (Pflegefreistellung).
  • If you are sick and cannot work please inform your supervisor and hr.administration@ist.ac.at. Sickness confirmations can be requested by telephone until further notice.
  • Overtime compensation or vacation can be requested as usual and agreed between supervisor and employee. Please request those absences as usual via dpw.

Please note that during teleworking our flextime agreement is still valid. (Employees with childcare duties may arrange other working times with their supervisor.)

Core working time is as follows: Monday to Thursday: 9.45am to 3.30pm, Friday 9.45am till 1.30pm.     Our flextime framework: Monday to Friday 7am to 8pm.

For additional information on teleworking please refer to our guideline on teleworking: https://wiki.ist.ac.at/index.php/Rules_and_Guidelines#Alternating_Teleworking

Each employee who works from home is fully insured within the social security system in Austria. All agreements of employment contracts remain valid. Only the place of work is temporarily moved from the Institute to the private residence in order to support the national containment strategy.

As of September 1, 2020 the teleworking guideline of the Institute will come into force again.

Please get in touch with HR (humanresources@ist.ac.at) in case you have any questions.

Employees with childcare duties for kids under 14 years

Update as of August 6, 2020: The agreements of the update on May 18, 2020 are extended until October 31, 2020 under the same conditions.

In consultation with the supervisor, the maximum possible flexible time allocation will continue to be granted in order to be able to fulfil normal working hours. This does not have to correspond to the agreed time frame of the employment contract, but can be individually agreed between the employee and the supervisor, so that childcare as well as job fulfilment can be guaranteed.

We hope that these measures will continue to ensure that childcare is compatible with job responsibilities and that all employees can carry out their tasks in the best possible way.

If you have any questions, please contact your supervisor and/or humanresources@ist.ac.at.

Helping yourself and others

Most importantly: Act responsibly and stay at home if you feel sick!

In case you or a colleague feel sick with respiratory symptoms or fever on campus

  • call EHS (ext. 1087 or 2244)
  • We will support you in any further steps.

In case you feel sick with respiratory symptoms or fever at home

  • stay at home
  • call 1450 (omitting any area code), the national health service (24h hotline) for further instructions. Ask for an English speaking operator if necessary
  • Inform EHS (ext. 1087 or 2244) (EHS)

In case you or a relative you live with is (potentially) infected, please

  • call 1450 (omitting any area code), the national health service (24h hotline) for further instructions. Ask for an English speaking operator if necessary
  • Inform EHS (ext. 1087 or 2244) (EHS)

Let us know if you need help

We are aware that such a situation can become very difficult to handle, particularly if you are new to this country! The campus community is here to help! Together with the Works Council we will provide practical support to all members of our community who need to stay at home and have no further support.


Further information can be found here:

https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/novel-coronavirus-china

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

https://www.sozialministerium.at/Themen/Gesundheit/Uebertragbare-Krankheiten/Infektionskrankheiten-A-Z/Neuartiges-Coronavirus.html (German)

https://www.ages.at/en/topics/pathogenic-organism/coronavirus/ (German)

https://www.bmeia.gv.at/reise-aufenthalt/reiseinformation/ (German)