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

Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

What's going on in Austria today? Photo: Patrick Robert Doyle/Unsplash

Supermarkets and shops to close at 7pm

Starting from Thursday, Austria will enter the second half of its nationwide lockdown.

Most of the rules will stay the same, but one change is that shops will have to close at 7pm, whereas currently they can stay open until 9pm. This was a request from a retail workers’ union, as The Local previously reported. It applies to the shops that are currently allowed to stay open, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and other shops for basic supplies.

First details of draft mandatory Covid vaccine law

Austrian daily Die Presse has had access to a draft of the law on mandatory vaccines, which is expected to be officially presented in early December.

The draft reportedly sets out fines of up to €7,200 for people who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine without a valid medical exemption. That would come if someone was issued a €3,600 fine twice.

The law would apply to everyone resident in Austria (not just citizens), but there would be a few exemption categories, including pregnant women. According to the draft seen by Die Presse, the mandate would apply from the age of 12.

But nothing is fixed yet, and the Health Ministry said on Monday that several different versions are currently in the works. The government is holding talks on the plans this morning, with a press conference scheduled for 11am.

Energy prices on the rise

Energy prices for domestic households were almost 23 percent higher in October than a year earlier.

Heating oil was 60.8 percent more expensive, diesel 34.8 percent more, gas 15.6 percent more and electricity 9.6 percent more, according to the energy price index (EPI) from the Austrian Energy Agency. Some providers have already announced planned increases to their tariffs, with others expected to follow suit from early next year.

Austrian opposition calls for lockdown to end a week early

The NEOS (The New Austria and Liberal Forum) has said that retail should reopen to people with proof of 2G from December 6th, with the party’s economic spokesperson calling the lockdown “a bit much” in comments to media on Monday.

Take this with a pinch of salt — the party is the smallest in Austria’s parliament.

The NEOS have also backed calls from the Chamber of Commerce for retail to be granted an exception to Austria’s strict Sunday closing laws on the two Sundays during the advent period.

Austrian appointed as WHO’s European crisis manager

Austrian Gerald Rockenschaub has been appointed Director of Health Emergencies in the European Region of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“I am very pleased that an Austrian doctor and public health expert has been appointed to this senior position in the WHO,” said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein.

Salzburg Schokolade goes bankrupt

The company said that the impact of the pandemic and rising prices of raw materials were to blame. The news affects around 140 employees.

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For members


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

German classes for refugees, vaccination, the weather for today and more news from Austria on Monday.

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

Debate about German courses for refugees

Austria is debating the best way to provide German classes for refugees and promote integration, as Der Standard reports.

Firstly, refugees usually have one single German-speaking teacher and almost no contact with German-speaking students at schools, reducing their contact with the language considerably. They also never hear their mother tongue in the context of school.

However, this mainly happens among schoolchildren with poor knowledge of German from Turkey, Syria, Serbia and even Austria.

The situation is different in most classes that were set up for Ukrainian refugee children, the daily said. These kids usually have at least two teachers who speak German (one would speak Ukrainian as well).

The Austrian daily paper says students have already noticed the difference. “The German class with children from Syria is separated by only a wall from the Ukrainian class – and everyone can see how much resources go where”, according to the report.

READ ALSO: How Austria and Austrians are helping Ukrainian refugees

Vienna expands vaccination offers

Long lines in Viennese vaccination centres led to people having to wait one and a half to two hours to get the coronavirus jab, according to reports in Austria media.

Broadcaster ORF said that the surge in demand comes just after the city of Vienna simplified the access to the fourth Covid vaccination. As a result, people can get the shot after four months of the third dose without the need for registration or appointment.

With increasing coronavirus numbers ahead of the summer holidays, the search for the vaccine has also risen. While about 300 people were vaccinated daily less than two weeks ago, about 1,300 people went every day at the weekend, the report said.

Health authorities recommend people make an appointment even though they are not required to. “With an appointment, it’s easier for us to plan, and there is also a separate area for people with appointments”, Susanne Drapalik, chief physician at the Samaritan League, told reporters.

The Austrian capital will also extend the opening hours of the vaccination centres to meet demand.

READ ALSO: Covid-19 in Austria: When should you get your fourth vaccine dose?

Austria’s government calls for blood donations

Austria’s hospitals are running out of blood, Die Presse reported. As a result, the Austrian Red Cross and the federal government are asking the population to donate blood.

“I urge you to take the time, go donate blood, and save the life of a fellow human being”, Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) said.

As of next September, there will also be non-discriminatory blood donation in Austria, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. However, it is worth noting that several people are still excluded from blood donation in Austria. In addition, the authorities require a fluent knowledge of German so that you can go through the pre-interview and fill out the forms without help or a translator.

Additionally, people who were born or lived for more than six months in several countries where there are diseases such as malaria, including Brazil, for example, have a life ban on blood donation in Austria, according to the Red Cross website.

READ ALSO: Austria to end blood donor discrimination based on sexual orientation

Rain showers bring temperatures down in Austria

From Vorarlberg to Upper Austria, there will be clouds interchanging with sunny times during the morning. Some regions will also have rain showers and thunderstorms.

In the rest of the country, including Vienna, the sun often shines, at least during the morning, Austria’s central meteorological and geodynamic institute ZAMG says.

From the late morning, more and more clouds start forming and accumulating, especially over the mountains and in the hills, and will likely bring more thunderstorms and rain. However, it remains sunny and dry for longer in Austria’s far east and southeast.

Day maximum temperatures throughout Austria go from 24C to 34C. At night, heavy downpours are expected, and even thunderstorms in the eastern half of Austria. The lowest temperatures of the night are between 14C and 20C.

READ ALSO: Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms