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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.

Crowds walk past a clothing store at Vienna's famous shopping street, Mariahilferstrasse, in Vienna
Crowds walk past a clothing store at Vienna's famous shopping street, Mariahilferstrasse, in Vienna. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Austria to give €150 to people on low incomes

Around 750,000 people are expected to benefit from the decision in Austria’s parliament this week. A one-off €150 payment will be given to people who are unemployed as well as beneficiaries of several different benefits, intended as ‘inflation adjustment’ to compensate for the higher cost of living.

Vienna launches free restaurant voucher scheme for shoppers this weekend

Anyone who shops at a brick-and-mortar store in Vienna (not online) this weekend can submit their receipt to receive vouchers to use at restaurants in the capital. The city council said that “at least 50 percent of the invoice amount will then be reimbursed, up to a maximum of €100” and that the vouchers would be given in €25 amounts.

To be eligible, your purchase needs to take place on December 18th or 19th — the retail sector has been allowed to open on Sunday to make up for some of the turnover lost during the fourth lockdown in a rare exception to Austria’s strict Sunday closing laws. 

Only receipts from shops which were closed during the lockdown are eligible, so pharmacies, supermarkets and food shops are not included.

Vienna and Burgenland likely to be downgraded from ‘very high risk’ to ‘high risk’ for Covid

That’s if the weekly update from Austria’s Corona Commission under its traffic light system follows its current criteria. For several weeks, all nine regions have been marked as red or ‘very high risk’ due to a combination of factors including incidence rate and ICU capacity. This week, the figures in both Vienna and Burgenland are sufficient for these regions to turn ‘orange’, which still means ‘high risk’ for Covid-19 — unless there is any change to the system, for example due to the spread of the Omicron variant. The updates aren’t showing on the official website yet but should do later today.

Hundreds join illegal protest against Covid measures

Up to 650 people joined a protest in central Vienna on Wednesday afternoon against the Covid-19 measures, which had not been given the police permission required to take place. Police described the event as “loud, but peaceful”, though some reports were made due to non-compliance with mask regulations. Similarly, an unregistered rally against the measures gathered several hundred participants in Graz and was not broken up by police as it remained peaceful, though the organiser has been reported.

In Vienna, demonstrations this weekend are only permitted from 6pm onwards, due to a request from the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, Der Standard reports. This applies also to a planned silent memorial, which will now take place at 6.30pm with a minute’s silence at 7pm, instead of earlier in the afternoon.

Salzburg streets will retain Nazi names

A majority in Salzburg’s regional council voted against renaming any of 66 streets named after prominent Nazis and Nazi supporters.

A commission of historians set up by the city had recommended renaming 13 of these, and the Green Party and the KPÖ voted in favour of this, with the conservative ÖVP and far-right FPÖ voting against. The centre-left SPÖ voted to rename five streets.

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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