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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.

Central Vienna
A couple walk past closed boutique stores on the Graben, a street in the city centre of Vienna that is normally packed with crowds of people on November 22, 2021. - Austria has entered a nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain spiraling coronavirus infections. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Austria has got more corrupt, survey shows

The survey in question is the annual Corruption Index from Transparency International, in which Austria lost two points compared to last year, gaining only 74 out of a possible 100 points.

The country’s international ranking actually increased from 15th place to 13th, but the local chapter of Transparency International said this was “not least due to the fact that corruption is also becoming an ever greater problem in many other countries”.

Could Austria soon ease restrictions despite Omicron wave?

Case numbers are still rising as Austria faces the Omicron wave, but that may no longer be such a decisive factor in setting restrictions if the milder nature of this variant means healthcare facilities can cope with a higher number of cases.

Some politicians, including Burgenland governor Hans Peter Doskozil and the NEOS opposition party, have called to an end to the lockdown on unvaccinated people and for the 10pm curfew on restaurants and bars to be relaxed.

But any easing of restrictions would come from discussions between the GECKO crisis committee and the government, who haven’t suggested that this will be happening in the very near future.

Viennese businesses call for end to Covid demos

Weekly demonstrations in Vienna’s city centre have discouraged locals and visitors from going to the area, business owners have complained in a letter to the city council.

“While no one is allowed to enter a shop or bar who is not vaccinated, thousands of unvaccinated people move through the city center without keeping distance and without masks every week,” the letter states, also noting that the heavy police presence and circling helicopters each week added to a sense of unease.

More raids on fake vaccine passes

Police have been carrying out more checks on bars and restaurants in Schladming ahead of the Nightrace ski event.

Although no violations by apres ski venues were found, police did seize more than ten fake vaccine passes during house raids following an anonymous tip-off.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Mask rules relaxed, latest monkeypox rules, Vienna Pride returns and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

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

Austria “pauses” its mask mandate

As The Local reported on Tuesday, Austria’s federal government has announced a “pause” to the mandatory FFP2 masks in essential trade, such as supermarkets, and public transport from June 1st.

Masks will still need to be worn in health and care facilities and a mandate could be brought back in autumn months, the Health Minister said. 

Minister of the Constitution Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP) also said that the compulsory vaccination law would remain suspended due to the lowering numbers of Covid-19 infections in Austria.

Still, Health Minister Rauch reminded people to get the vaccine and get a booster before the autumn months, to protect against possible new variants and hospitalisation.

“We will have refresher campaigns from August to prepare for winter”, he stated.

READ MORE: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

READ MORE: Austria to keep masks only in essential places from April 17th

Note: this story was updated on Tuesday morning after the federal government’s press conference on the new Covid regulations.

Nehammer cancels trip to Davos at short notice

Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) has cancelled his trip to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos at short notice. He was due to arrive in the Graubünden mountain village on Tuesday morning.

“The Federal Chancellor will remain in Austria for the next few days so that he can take care of urgent domestic political obligations,” the Federal Chancellery said today, broadcaster ORF reports.

Austria will be represented at the WEF by Finance Minister Magnus Brunner and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (both ÖVP).

Will Austria order monkeypox vaccines?

Quarantine rules and a reporting obligation for people who have had close contact with someone with monkeypox should come into effect by Tuesday morning, according to Austria’s Ministry of Health. However, no vaccine against the disease has been ordered as yet.

The United States has started to vaccinate healthcare workers against the virus with the smallpox vaccine, which also protects against monkeypox.  Britain has also placed a large order for smallpox vaccine. The Krone newspaper reports Austria will work with the European authorities to determine whether a vaccine might be suitable for use in Austria.

READ MORE: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Vienna’s LGBTIQ rainbow parade to return after pandemic

Vienna Pride will return to Vienna on June 11th, with its rainbow parade also coming back to the city’s Ring road  for the first time since the pandemic. 

Around 200,000 participants are expected to join the capital’s 26th parade. For the first time the rainbow parade will also address climate issues and will march with “Fridays For Future”. There will also be supporting programmes including guided tours in the city’s Kunsthistorisches Museum and in the Albertina, a special screening in the film museum, beach days and medical lectures. However, the Pride Village in Rathausplatz, will not return until 2023.  

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