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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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.

A woman holds a poster saying
A woman holds a poster saying "we did not elect you" as anti-corona measures protestors demonstrate outside the Chancellery during the swearing-in yesterday of the new Chancellor. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Update from Vienna on post-lockdown steps

We’re expecting an update from the capital region today, a day before national and regional leaders meet to discuss the plan for Austria as a whole.

Vienna has had stricter rules than Austria’s other regions for some time, including implementing a 2G+ rule (proof of vaccination or recovery plus a negative PCR test) for bars and clubs shortly before the national lockdown, though this was only in place for a weekend. This is likely to remain in place after the lockdown ends.

Vienna cannot independently decide to lift lockdown, as federal states only have the power to impose measures beyond the ones that apply nationally and not to opt out of national ones. So we’ll have to wait a bit longer for confirmation on exactly what will re-open on Sunday.

Criticism over far-right politician spreading misinformation

A parliamentarian from the far-right Freedom Party, Dagmar Belakowitsch, falsely stated in a speech at the protests that Austria’s hospitals are full not with Covid patients but with people requiring treatment as a result of the vaccine. Austria’s medical association has said this is false and appealed to the public to get information regarding Covid from public health authorities. Since the start of the pandemic, over 60,000 people in Austria have required hospital treatment for Covid-19, compared to 1,360 who have been treated in hospital or had a hospital stay extended close to the time of their vaccination. Intensive care stations are currently occupied by 654 patients receiving treatment for Covid-19 and 769 patients receiving care for other reasons.

By November 27th, there had been 270 applications made under the law which gives compensation for damage caused by Covid-19 vaccines (the majority of which are still pending, so it is not confirmed if the vaccine directly caused any harm), while over 13 million vaccine doses had been administered. 

Vaccine sceptics deregister from digital health services

Speaking of misinformation, several thousand people have de-registered from digital health portal Elga, after rumours spread in anti-vaccine circles that this would help them avoid future fines under the vaccine mandate.

Speaking to broadcaster ORF, Elga’s managing director confirmed this is not the case as vaccination certificates are still recorded centrally, but it does mean losing access to things like getting a prescription over the phone.

We have a new chancellor

Austria’s new chancellor Karl Nehammer, a former soldier and communications advisor, was sworn in on Monday, along with several new cabinet members as the ruling People’s Party faces the fallout of a major corruption scandal.

Nehammer’s first act has been to conduct a cabinet reshuffle, sending his predecessor Alexander Schallenberg back to his previous post as foreign minister and appointing new finance, interior and education ministers. The new cabinet members were sworn in along with Nehammer.

ANALYSIS: How did Austrian politics get so chaotic?

Avalanche risk in large parts of Austria

Heavy snowfall across a lot of the country means a level 3 avalanche warning (on a five-point scale) is in place in Carinthia, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Winter sports fans in particular should exercise caution in the mountains. 

Public holiday tomorrow

December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is the conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

This means many employees have the day off work, and many shops and businesses are closed, but supermarkets are allowed to open between 10am and 6pm. Usually, the Billa and Penny Markt chains stay shut while Spar, Hofer and Lidl shops are open, sometimes with shorter hours than usual.

As for what we’re celebrating: Catholics believe Mary’s mother, Saint Anne, became pregnant in the usual, biological way, but that the conception was ‘immaculate’ because God intervened, absolving Mary of original sin.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Covid-19 numbers on the rise, wages shrinking as cost of living increases, Finance Ministry official online communication and more news from Austria on Friday.

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

Austria’s Covid commission alerts to 70,000 daily infections soon

Austria’s commission to assess the pandemic situation, known as GECKO (Gesamtstaatliche COVID-Krisenkoordination), has alerted to rising Covid-19 numbers, Der Standard reports.

The commission believes the daily number of coronavirus infections could reach 70,000 already this summer. This is mainly because people have been travelling more than in previous years while wearing masks less often.

READ ALSO: Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Wages are shrinking and consumption is rising

Austria’s economy will grow somewhat more strongly this year than expected in March, ORF reported.

However, according to the June forecast of the economic research institutes WIFO and IHS, the outlook for the year’s second half is much gloomier.

Since inflation is higher than expected in March, gross real wages will fall by a historic 3.9 percent. However, if inflation falls, the real wages should increase significantly, about 5.3 percent, in 2023.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

Finance Ministry to contact FinanzOnline users

If Austria’s Finance Ministry contacts you, don’t worry: they will be checking everyone’s data on the FinanzOnline platform.

The goal is to have up-to-date account data so that all the announced bonuses and payments to counter the rising cost of living to be made quickly and with no issues.

The contact will happen via the FinanzOnline website and e-mail to users who allow email contact.

Of course, whenever the government or authorities announce they will reach out to people, there are always criminals looking to take advantage of it. Therefore, ensure that the message you received is from FinanzOnline and check the official website directly instead of clicking on links.

READ ALSO: When will you get your cost of living ‘bonus’ payments in Austria?

School holidays start in the east

Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland students have started their nine-week summer vacations. In the remaining Austrian states, school holidays will only begin next week.

Classes will resume on September 5th for the east and September 12th in the Western states. Austria’s ÖAMTC traffic authority expects heavy traffic jams at the beginning of the month, especially as the summer holidays have also started in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and two German federal states.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in July 2022

A break in the heatwave

The west of Austria will have a small break from the heatwave this Friday, Austria’s meteorologic central ZAMG says. A cold front arrives from the west, and maximum temperatures will be between 18C to 21C in the region, with thunderstorms.

In Vienna and Burgenland, though, maximum temperatures continue high, reaching 35C during the day.

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

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