Harmonised rules on the protection of minors in catering establishments
These regulations apply to all traders from EU Member States in Austria.
In Austria, the protection of minors falls under the responsibility of the federal provinces, which agreed to harmonise the laws on the protection of minors adopted in 2019 with respect to alcohol and smoking bans and curfews. Restaurant owners risk sanctions in the event of infringement of smoking and alcohol bans or curfews applicable to children and young people if they do not endeavour to ensure compliance with these bans.
Other youth protection provisions concern the making available of media, data carriers and similar that pose a risk to minors, the supplying of drugs and alternative substances, or enabling minors to participate in gambling and betting. Infringements of these provisions will also result in sanctions. However, different rules may still apply in different provinces.
Ban on the consumption of spirits by under-18s
Young people may not purchase, have in their possession or consume any alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine in public until they turn 16. The purchase, possession and consumption in public of spirits (distilled alcohol) such as rum, schnapps, vodka, liqueurs and whisky as well as of mixed alcoholic beverages such as alcopops is now prohibited until the age of 18 in all federal provinces. In certain provinces, additional detailed rules apply.
In Burgenland, Carinthia and Salzburg, beverages containing distilled alcohol and having an alcoholic strength by volume of more than 0.5% may not be consumed until the age of 18. In addition, in Carinthia young people over the age of 16 may only consume up to a certain amount of alcohol, in that their blood alcohol content may not exceed 0.5 g/l or they must not score more than 0.25 mg/l on a breathalyser test.
Ban on smoking under the age of 18
There is now a ban on smoking in public under the age of 18 in all federal provinces. This ban covers the purchase, possession and consumption of, in particular, tobacco (smoking tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff tobacco, snus), water pipes (shishas), e-shishas and e-cigarettes.
Curfews extended – except in Upper Austria
Night-time curfews have also been harmonised, except in Upper Austria. Curfews for young people under the age of 14 have now been loosened in eight federal provinces, as a result of which they may now be outside from 5am to 11pm. 14 to 16-year-olds may be out from 5am until 1am. There are no restrictions for those aged 16 and over.
In Upper Austria, those under the age of 14 may go out from 5am until 10pm, 14 to 16-year-olds from 5am to 12am, and those aged 16 and over are not subject to restrictions.
Penalties for breaching alcohol and smoking bans or curfews
It is a punishable offence for children or young people to be permitted to purchase, possess or consume (distilled) alcohol or mixed alcoholic beverages or tobacco and similar products, or for them to be offered or supplied (e.g. sold) these products. Restaurateurs must ensure compliance on their premises with the child protection provisions with respect to smoking and alcohol bans as well as curfews, for example by advising of the rules, checking customers' age, refusing entry or expelling individuals from certain areas or from the premises entirely. They must also display the necessary information on their premises or at their events, some of which is prescribed more specifically by the applicable regulations.
In the event of infringements, restaurateurs face fines and, in some federal provinces, imprisonment as a substitute for a non-collectible fine. Moreover, repeated administrative offences may also result in the withdrawal of business or event licences by the competent authority. The details of these regulations may vary between the federal provinces.
For the most recent information on curfewsGerman text, smoking and alcoholGerman text and penalties for infringement of child protection provisions by business ownersGerman text, visit oesterreich.gv.at.
responsible for content: USP Editorial Staff