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

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

A protestor holds the Austrian flag
A protestor holds the Austrian flag at a demonstration in Frankfurt this weekend. Photo: Yann Schreiber / AFP

Happy St Nicholas Day!

December 6th is St Nicholas Day in Austria and although it’s not a public holiday, it’s an important day in the run-up to Christmas, with children receiving gifts in shoes or boots left out overnight.

Changes to Green Pass validity

Don’t get caught out by this rule change. As of today, vaccine passes in Austria are only valid for 270 days after the second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine instead of 360 days. After this, you will need proof of a third dose.

This applies for the purpose of showing 3G proof to enter the country, and for 2G or 3G checks within Austria, for example at ski lifts or in workplaces.

What does the first draft of Austria’s vaccine mandate law look like?

The first draft of the law that would make vaccines mandatory has been prepared and, according to multiple Austrian publications which have seen the draft, it means that anyone who has not received a Covid-19 vaccine by March 15th could face a fine (the actual law would come into force from February 1st).

The fines are set to be €600, but could be issued every three months up to a maximum of €3,600. Children under 14, pregnant women, and people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons would be excluded from the mandate. A Ministry of Health spokesperson would not comment on reports of the draft when questioned by broadcaster ORF.

Five arrested in Vienna Covid demonstration

More than 40,000 people protested in Vienna on Saturday against plans to bring in compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations from February, and clashes with police resulted in five arrests.

The Austrian police dispatched 1,200 officers to control the protestors and keep them separate from an estimated 1,500 counter-protestors.

Will lockdown end this week?

Yes, according to what the government has said previously, December 11th will be the final day of the general lockdown (this means December 12th is the first day without restrictions, and Monday December 13th is the first day many businesses will reopen, which is why you may have seen all three dates mentioned). But what will that actually look like? That’s the question on the agenda when national and regional leaders meet on Wednesday.

Upper Austria has already said it plans to keep a lockdown in place for at least an extra week, and nationwide a lockdown will likely continue for people without proof of 2G. Aside from that, leaders will need to decide which restrictions, if any, are kept in place.

What to expect from Austrian politics

In case you missed the news on Friday, former Interior Minister Karl Nehammer was appointed as Austria’s new Chancellor (the third in two months) and several other cabinet posts were reshuffled.

The new government will officially be sworn in at 1pm today.

Wintery weather on the way

The coming week will be a cold one according to meteorological institute ZAMG, with daily highs not above 6C. Snowfall is expected in many areas, with limited sunshine until the weekend.

Three killed in Salzburg avalanche

An avalanche in the Salzburg region killed three people and injured two while they were skiing off-piste, Austria’s Red Cross said on Saturday.

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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