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

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

Closed shops in central Vienna.
Closed shops in central Vienna. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP

Lockdown end date to be decided next week

When the nationwide lockdown was first announced, the Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg was very clear that it would last a “maximum” of 20 days, ending on December 12th for fully vaccinated people at least.

But we will only get official confirmation after a government decision next week, with the Ministry of Health saying that’s when the government will decide on the end date, based on developments in the Covid situation.

At the moment, there is a slow decline in newly reported cases — though this may be partly effected by lower testing rates while people are in lockdown. 

Austria’s Word of the Year is announced

And it’s Schattenkanzler (shadow chancellor), which narrow beat out 3G (the term used as shorthand for ‘geimpft, genesen, getestet‘ or ‘vaccinated, recovered, tested’)

The word of the year is chosen every month by a jury led by the University of Graz’s Society for Austrian German (GSÖD), and this year almost 12,000 votes were cast. Schattenkanzler was an expression used ironically to refer to new chancellor Alexander Schallenberg after he replaced Sebastian Kurz, but many suspected that by staying in his role as party chairman Kurz would continue to pull the strings.

Thousands demonstrate against vaccine mandate across Austria

As we reported yesterday, there was a large protest against the plans for making Covid-19 vaccines mandatory in Vienna on Wednesday. Hundreds of people also joined demonstrations in other parts of the country, including Eisenstadt in Burgenland, Linz and Steyr in Upper Austria, and central Salzburg.

Vouchers possible as alternative to office Christmas parties again this year

Employers in Austria are entitled to spend €365 per employee on company parties (including Christmas parties as well as any other celebrations through the year) and have the money deducted from tax. Last year, Austrian authorities changed the rules so that this money could be given directly to employees in the form of vouchers, and that rule will remain in place for the 2021 Christmas season.

Vienna has world’s best quality of life, but least friendly people: survey

The survey in question was the Expat City Ranking, carried out by expat networking group InterNations who quizzed over 12,000 people in 57 cities around the world. Overall, Vienna was ranked as the 14th best city for expats, earning a number 1 rating for Quality of Urban Living but the city scored dead last in the category of Local Friendliness. If you want to share your comments or tips on making friends in Austria (and not just the capital), please fill out our questionnaire.

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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