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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A round up of the latest news on Thursday

Find out what's going on in Austria on Thursday with The Local's short roundup of the important news.

A cow grazes in a field in Saalfelden, near Salzburg, (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)
A cow grazes in a field in Saalfelden, near Salzburg, (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)

Vienna to decide today on reopening steps 

In Vienna, the decision will be made today whether to support the nationwide opening steps from May 19th in full or whether to proceed more restrictively. Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) has recently repeatedly shown scepticism about opening all areas at the same time, saying for example only outside dining may be possible initially until the end of May, according to reports.

Two shot dead in Salzburg village

Two people were shot dead on Thursday night in a single-family house in Wals-Siezenheim in Salzburg. According to the police, a 51-year-old killed his former partner and her mother, broadcaster ORF reports. The alleged perpetrator has since been arrested. He is said to have had two handguns with him.

Burgenland turns orange 

For the first time since the end of March, a federal state in Austria has a coronavirus traffic light colour other than red. The further commission has recommended Burgenland should be classified as “orange”, which still means there is a high risk of infection. The rest Austria remains red. Burgenland is well below the threshold of 100 infected people per 100,000 inhabitants, ORF reports, as is Lower Austria. If Lower Austria continues to show low numbers of infections for three weeks, it will also turn orange. 

EXPLAINED: How does Austria’s coronavirus traffic light system work?

Shortage of workers in tourism industry

The number of employees in the tourism industry fell by more than 40,000 last year, Der Standard reports. This reduction came despite short-time work and the extension of the commitment to reinstatement during the corona crisis. The decline in the hiring of apprentices was particularly dramatic, said Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) on Wednesday at a panel discussion in Vienna. She said labour shortages were one of the greatest challenges for Austria’s domestic tourism, even before the pandemic.

Building materials shortage

The construction sector is suffering from building material shortages causing fast-rising prices for wood, reinforced concrete, piping, and other materials, Der Standard newspaper reports. The newspaper indicates Austrian building companies are increasingly struggling with fluctuations in their supply chains and the inability of suppliers to offer relatively stable prices, amid increasing global competition for materials and high demand in China and the United States. There appears to be no expectation that prices will settle in the near future, the paper indicates.

Rise in online shopping

 The Austrian Economic Chamber (WKÖ) registered an 11.3 percent rise in online shopping within Austria in 2020 compared to the preceding year, indicating that the covid pandemic is driving accelerated growth, according to the Kronen Zeitung newspaper. At the same time, WKO expects that the market share for online is unlikely to grow beyond 15 percent of overall sales in the medium term, despite the government’s efforts to boost online sales through the digital platform Kaufhaus Österreich.

EU has no powers to set a minimum wage in Austria

Austria’s Labour Minister Kocher told a parliamentary subcommittee meeting on EU affairs on May 5th that the EU has no legal powers to set a minimum wage via legislation, Die Presse newspaper reports. Kocher was signalling Austria’s rejection of one of the main proposals in the EU’s labour market policy package to be discussed at the EU social summit.

Pilot project to recruit young people to work in Vienna

The City of Vienna is launching a pilot project with the Vienna Employee Promotion Fund (WAFF) and the University of Applied Sciences Campus Vienna to recruit people aged between 19 and 30 to work as administrative staff for the city. Jobs range from posts in human resources to customer service. Those taking part acquire practical alongside the university entrance qualification test at the FH Campus Wien. Those who successfully complete the project have the chance of a job, Wiener Zietung newspaper reports.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

No more '3G' to enter Austria, swimming lakes warm up, compulsory vaccination debate returns and more news on Monday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

No more testing or proof of vaccination to come into Austria

From today (Monday 16 May), all testing/vaccination requirements to enter Austria will be removed. It is possible to come to Austria from all countries in the world without showing a negative test or proof of vaccination.

A new entry regulation was published last week  by the Ministry of Health. The cancellation of entry checks was justified by the current epidemiological situation.

There is still the possibility for countries to be classed as virus variant areas, however at present no country is currently on the list of these areas. Should a new virus variant emerge, the obligation to test, register and quarantine could be quickly imposed again, broadcaster ORF reports.

Austria’s lakes warm up for swimming

Warm temperatures of over 30 degrees in May mean that Austria’s swimming lakes are ready for use, with temperatures exceeding the 20-degree mark in the Alte Donau in Vienna, the Aubad Tulln and the Stubenbergsee in Styria. Some Carinthian lakes are already at 19 degrees, such as Lake Faak and Lake Pressegger, broadcaster ORF reports. 

READ MORE: The best lakes and swimming spots in Austria

Nehammer unanimously elected leader of the ÖVP

As The Local reported at the weekend, Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer has been formally elected leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) with 100 percent of the vote. 

The heads of the ÖVP traditionally tend to get high results in their first election as chairman. Kurz was elected party leader in 2017 with 98.7 percent of the vote. However, there has never been a 100 percent result in a first-time election until now.

READ MORE: Austria’s Nehammer formally elected party leader in unanimous vote

Compulsory vaccination law could come into force automatically in June

An ordinance suspending Austria’s compulsory vaccination law will expire at the end of May, making it possible in theory that random penalties for remaining unvaccinated could be put in place at the start of June. 

The law  was introduced in February, even though the technical requirements for it to be enacted were not in place. Before a single person was fined, the Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) suspended the law with an ordinance.

To create a new ordinance or extend the existing one stopping people from being fined, Rauch must await  the report of the vaccination commission.

This will assess from a medical and legal point of view whether the Vaccination Act is suitable and useful. In a previous report of the commission, it said there were arguments for and against mandatory vaccination for those who were completely unvaccinated.

Der Standard reports there is little political support for compulsory vaccination and says there are still technical problems regarding automated fines. According to the Ministry of Health, the infrastructure should be completed in June.

READ MORE:

Car reduction scheme stalls 
A plan to significantly reduce traffic in Vienna’s city centre will probably not be implemented as planned in 2022. Vienna wanted to set up surveillance cameras limiting access to the city’s First District by car to residents.

At present, around 50,000 cars are registered driving in and out of the historic centre every working day. 

Der Standard newspaper reports that it has information that the new regulation will not come into force this year as planned. The necessary legislation has not been passed and there are concerns about data protection. 

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