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

People queue for Covid-19 vaccines outside a Vienna Christmas market.
People queue for Covid-19 vaccines outside a Vienna Christmas market. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Parliament to start work reviewing Austria’s 2022 budget

This is a three-day process, ending with a vote on Thursday. Read more about the government’s budget proposals, including tax cuts and new climate policies, here.

Discount supermarket Hofer to launch delivery service in Vienna

The budget supermarket Hofer (known as Aldi in many countries) will start offering delivery of groceries in the Austrian capital. Delivery fees will range between €2.90 and €6.90, and the total value of the order must be at least €39.

Lockdown for unvaccinated ‘already effective’ says chancellor…

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has said that putting unvaccinated people under lockdown is already having the desired effect, with a bump in Austria’s vaccination rate.

“The developments in recent days, the huge increases at the vaccination centres, have shown that this threat scenario that we created with the… restrictions is having an effect,” he said on Monday evening.

“As a government, we have not taken this step lightly to deprive a section of the population of its freedoms. When one part of the population is taking the necessary steps to protect itself and others, and another part of the population isn’t, taking measures to separate those two parts and reduce contacts is not discrimination,” Schallenberg said.

…but government can’t agree over future Covid measures

Chancellor Schallenberg contradicted his Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (who belongs to the government’s junior coalition partner, the Green Party) over future plans for Covid measures.

As we reported yesterday, Mückstein has said that curfews for vaccinated people cannot be ruled out in Austria if hospitals remain under strain, but Schallenberg said there were no plans for new measures for the vaccinated. He also said there was no planned Covid summit for Wednesday to discuss possible changes to the rules, as the Health Minister had said previously.

Anti-vaccination far-right leader Herbert Kickl tests positive for Covid-19

The leader of the far right Freedom Party (FPÖ), Herbert Kickl, has tested positive for the coronavirus, he said on his Facebook page. Kickl said that he had experienced Covid-19 symptoms and was now undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

This means he will be unable to take part in a demonstration against Covid-19 measures planned for later this week.

Changes in schools’ Covid rules from today

Masks must be worn also by schoolchildren under 15, except when seated at their own desk, in Austria’s schools after Covid rules were tightened again. A mask obligation was already in place for children in the Oberstufe.

In addition, school trips are banned for the next two weeks due to Austria’s high Covid incidence rate.

PCR test rules for employees adjusted

Employees in some professions (nursing homes and hospitals but also bars and clubs) currently have to adhere to a 2.5G rule (proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative PCR test), but Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said on Monday that if a PCR test wasn’t possible, these workers could instead bring in a negative antigen result. Employees in these professions need to wear an FFP2 mask if they are using tests as their proof of 2.5G.

The rule change follows long waiting times for PCR test results in several regions.

More changes for Covid rules in Carinthia, Vorarlberg and Lower Austria

Carinthia announced stricter Covid-19 measures yesterday afternoon, extending the FFP2 mask mandate to apply also in services requiring close physical contact (like hairdressers and salons), as well as at restaurants when not seated at a table.

Lower Austria is also tightening its rules, with an expansion of the FFP2 mask mandate to come into effect on Wednesday — according to yesterday’s statement, details are still being worked out.

And Vorarlberg is also set to require FFP2 masks in all indoor spaces, including for staff at retail and restaurants, and at indoor events, with the full details set to be announced later today and the changes coming into effect on Friday.


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