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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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.

Vienna Christmas market
Austria starts re-opening for vaccinated residents and visitors this week, plus the rest of the news you need this morning. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

National lockdown ends for people with proof of Covid vaccination or recovery

From today, the national lockdown is lifted, but a lockdown is still in place for people without proof of 2G (proof of vaccination or recovery) which means people in this group cannot access services like non-essential retail, restaurants, or Christmas markets and should not leave their homes except for essential reasons such as exercise, food shopping, or going to work if it cannot be done remotely. 

But re-opening looks different across the country, with a return to regionally decided measures. Upper Austria is  keeping a lockdown in place regionally. In four regions (Carinthia, Lower Austria, Styria and Salzburg), restaurants, cafes and hotels will only open from December 17th and in Vienna they will wait until the 20th.

Thousands protested against Austria’s Covid measures over the weekend

Around 40,000 people gathered to protest in Vienna, followed by 17,000 in Graz, 6,000 in Innsbruck and 4,500 in Salzburg on Sunday, with dozens more demonstrations planned for the coming days. A particular focus of the protests is the planned Covid-19 vaccine mandate, as well as the continued lockdown for unvaccinated people.

At some of the protests, objects were thrown at journalists and police officers, and there were seven police reports of criminal offences at the Vienna protest.

Austria gets a cross-party parliamentary group for LGBTIQ rights

The group was set up after lawmakers from the centre-left SPÖ and Green Party invited their peers from other parties to join them, based on the European Parliament model which has several cross-party issue-based groups. LGBTIQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer. The Neos opposition party and governing conservative ÖVP have signalled their support of the initiative.

The organisers described the group as a “non-partisan platform for the concerns of the queer community right in the heart of our democracy, in parliament”.

Problems with Austria’s Covid reporting system

Issues with the EMS (epidemiological reporting system) meant that Vienna and Styria were not accounted for in Sunday’s Covid figures, which were also delayed until the evening.

Austrian court to judge whether the fourth lockdown was unconstitutional

This is after a person who had received three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine brought a case to Austria’s Constitutional Court. They argued that the lockdown is only justified when it is necessary to protect public health, and that as someone who received a booster dose, they posed a low risk of spreading the virus. The court will assess whether the lockdown was a proportional measure, but we will likely only hear the decision in spring, according to Die Presse which was first to report on the case.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

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