It’s decision day for Austria, with the federal government, states, municipalities and social partners meeting to discuss the gradual easing of the corona measures announced by the government from mid-May.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has promised everything from culture to sport, gastronomy and tourism will open up, but there will be strict conditions.
The opening commission will meet at 11am in the Federal Chancellery. There should be an announcement with more details by early afternoon.
Another virus variant found in Tyrol
Tyrol is once again a hotspot for a new virus variant. The Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports there has been an increase in Covid-19 infections with a virus variant in which the so-called E484K mutation is present in addition to the B1.1.7 or British variant. B1.1.7 + E484K is likely to be even more contagious compared to B1.1.7, the paper reports.
Preliminary PCR tests have found 1,800 instances of this variant. Previously Tyrol was a European hotspot for the South African variant of the virus. Broadcaster ORF reports the mandatory exit test for Tyrol will be extended up to and including 5th May.
Better internet for Austria?
Austria has one of the slowest internet speeds in the EU, according to the Wiener Zeitung newspaper.
It reports €1.4billion is planned by the government to speed up the network, with €891 provided by EU funding.
Wirecard revelations continue
More shocking revelations have come in the Wirecard scandal, which involve two Austrians at the highest level: Ex-managing director Markus Braun, who is in custody, and ex-board member Jan Marsalek, who has gone into hiding and has numerous connections in secret service circles according to broadcaster ORF.
The latest is a report in the Financial Times that Wirecard employees regularly looted millions of euros in cash out of the group’s Munich HQ, carrying out the cash in supermarket plastic bags.
10,000 deaths from coronavirus
Austria has now sadly recorded 10,000 deaths from coronavirus, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports.
More unemployment benefits
Around 220,000 people without a job will benefit from the increase in emergency aid to the level of unemployment benefit decided by the National Council, which will come into effect retroactively from 1st April, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports.
Labor Minister Kocher gave more details on how he plans to get 50,000 long-term unemployed people back to work by the end of 2022. The government will create incentives for employment with combined wage models.
Tax deferred for companies a further three months
It will be possible for companies to defer paying taxes for a further three months from July on request, with only a symbolic amount of 0.5 or 1% due in this period, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports.
The Chamber of Commerce [WKÖ] sees this as an “important partial success”, it reports. Otherwise, companies will have to repay taxes deferred in the pandemic from July.