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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

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

Salzburg street
FFP2 masks will now be required outdoors where a two-metre distance cannot be maintained. Photo: zhang xiaoyu/Unsplash

New Covid rules: Shorter quarantines, wider FFP2 mandate, and 2G checks in shops

The following measures were announced on Thursday following a meeting of Austria’s regional and national leaders and scientific experts:

  • The FFP2 mask requirement has been extended to outdoors when a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained such as in outdoors queues or pedestrian crossings, starting from January 11th.
  • The current quarantine period for those who test positive for Covid-19 or who are contact cases will be shortened to five days from January 8th, after which there will be an option to end self-isolation through taking a test. Previously the quarantine for positive Omicron cases was 14 days.
  • Shops will be required to check 2G (proof of vaccination or recovery) from next week. This is to further enforce the current lockdown on unvaccinated people. Salzburg already introduced this rule this week.
  • The Green Pass will only be valid for six months from the second dose starting from February 1st. Validity will remain at nine months for those with the booster vaccination.

Health Minister: Vaccine mandate will definitely come into force in February

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said that Austria’s planned vaccine mandate is certain to come into effect as planned.

He was questioned on Austrian TV on Thursday about the possibility of paying people in Austria who received a vaccine, and said he was sceptical about this measure but otherwise was in favour of as many incentives as possible.

December lockdown had less impact on the economy than previous ones

December’s lockdown, the fourth nationwide one in Austria since the start of the pandemic, led to costs of €400 million per week, but this is still less than earlier lockdowns, according to figures from the Economic Research Institute (WIFO) on behalf of the Ministry of Finance.

Finance Minister Magnus Brunner said this shows the economy has grown “more resilient”.

During the lockdown, shopping was still possible if using Click & Collect options (ordering online or by phone beforehand) and restaurants and cafes could sell food for takeaway.

Two arrests after shooting in Wiener Neustadt

Two people have been arrested after a clash between two rival gangs at the train station in Wiener Neustadt, police have said.

Three people were injured after shots were fired from an alarm gun on Thursday evening, one of them seriously hurt.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Plans to introduce electricity price brake, deadline for energy voucher extended, church contributions under fire from FPÖ party and more news from Austria on Monday.

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

Electricity price brake expected in October

There are signs that an electricity price brake may come into effect later in the year in Austria, meaning a certain quota of electricity would be made available for each household at a certain price. The Austrian  Finance Minister Brunner (ÖVP) has said that the ÖVP-Green government is currently in the process of working on this electricity price brake.  He expects a corresponding law to be passed in September and that it will come into force in October, according to broadcaster ORF

Last week, Vienna’s finance minister Peter Hanke told the Standard newspaper that people should set their heating to 19 degrees and suggested the capital’s museums might be set to a lower temperature to reduce energy costs.

READ ALSO: Austria announces electricity price cap from autumn as prices soar

Energy voucher: Deadlines extended

By the end of June, every household in Austria should have received an energy voucher worth 150 euros, which can be redeemed and given to their electricity supplier. Now the deadline to request a voucher has been extended until the end of October. There is also more time to redeem the voucher, until the end of the year instead of the end of October. The voucher cannot be redeemed in 2023. 

Households that have not yet redeemed their voucher or have to apply for a new one, for example because the voucher was lost or did not arrive, have more time to do so. New vouchers can now be requested from the energy cost compensation hotline on 050 233 798 until the end of October. 

READ MORE: How to claim your €150 energy discount in Austria 

Right wing FPÖ Party calls for pause in church contribution payments

The right wing FPÖ party leader Herbert Kickl appealed to Cardinal Christoph Schönborn at the weekend to suspend the payments of Catholic church contributions in Austria for an indefinite period in view of the  current extreme wave of inflation. The Archdiocese of Vienna replied that It has been “practice in the Catholic Church for years”, to take into account the individual situation of its contributors.

“Of course, nothing will change in the current crisis or in the future,” stated the press office of the Archdiocese of Vienna, according to Kathpress.

Kickl had previously said that Schönborn, as head of the church, should know “how poverty and existential fears can affect people – and for many of them every cent that they have or don’t have at their disposal counts”, broadcaster ORF reports, adding it was very difficult to get an exemption from contributions. 

READ MORE: What is Austria’s church tax and how do I avoid paying it? 

 FPÖ party rocked by reports found on former MP’s phone 

The FPÖ party has had what the Standard newspaper described as “a horror week” after advertisements briefing against top officials in FPÖ Vienna was found on the phone of  former FPÖ MP Hans-Jörg Jenewein. Vienna FPÖ boss Dominik Nepp said the report was “completely irrelevant”, while noting that the matter would be “clarified internally”. The Vienna FPÖ head also criticised the media, which he said had exaggerated the issue, arguing that an attempt was being made to provoke a dispute within the party, broadcaster ORF reports. 

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