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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Fears over Russian oil embargo, calls to end masks in shops for Mother's Day, thunderstorms looming and more news on Wednesday.

Lightning strikes in front of the Rathaus square (Photo by SAMUEL KUBANI / AFP)
Thunderstorms and lightning are predicted to hit Vienna today. (Photo by SAMUEL KUBANI / AFP)

Fears from Austrian industries over energy embargo

The Federation of Austrian Industries (IV) has sounded the alarm over the EU’s plan to put an embargo in place on oil from Russia and fears this may lead to a gas embargo, which would have dramatic consequences, broadcaster ORF reports.

Coal and oil from Russia can be replaced by supplies from other countries, although this will drive up costs, according to the IV. However, the federation says there is no alternative to Russia for gas.

READ MORE: Austria throws support behind embargo of Russian oil

Demonstrations in Vienna have cost retail around 23 million euros in 2021

Regular demonstrations against pandemic measures in the centre of Vienna cost retail around  23 million euros in 2021, and meant that more than 300 jobs were lost according to the Vienna Chamber of Commerce (WK). 

Since the beginning of 2022 there have been 55 demonstrations. The WK is now demanding a reorganisation of the route and a better distribution of the demonstrations in the city, saying it is putting a strain on businesses.

As the demos mainly take place on public holidays and Saturdays, they also have a negative effect on tourism as well as cafes and restaurants, particularly for tourists visiting at the weekend, Markus Grießler, head of the tourism and leisure industry division at the Vienna Chamber of Commerce told broadcaster ORF.

Could mask requirement be scrapped in retail for Mother’s Day?

The Austrian Chamber of Commerce calling for an end to the requirement to wear masks in shops in time for Mother’s Day, which falls this weekend on May 8th. 

“Next Sunday offers an occasion to celebrate not only for mothers, but also for the domestic trade. And such an occasion is more than welcome after a good two years of Corona plus new uncertainties,” Rainer Trefelik, Chairman of the Federal Trade Division in the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKÖ) said in the newspaper Heute.

Thunderstorms predicted across Austria

A weather warning is in place throughout Austria for thunderstorms on Wednesday with the exception of Carinthia. Vienna is likely to be particularly affected by, especially in the districts of Baden, Wiener-Neustadt and Lilienfeld, the newspaper Heute reports.

Bread, milk and oil prices are rising sharply in Austria

The prices of bread, milk and oil have risen particularly sharply in Austria, and are expected to continue to rise, Gabriel Felbermayr, head of the Economic Research Institute (WIFO) has told broadcaster ORF. Both consumers and farmers are suffering, due to the rising prices for energy and fertilisers.

However, Minister of Agriculture Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) says Austria’s food supply is secure, saying that Austria plans to strengthen food production and self-sufficiency. According to the minister around 90 percent of staple foods are produced in Austria.

The managing director of the Austrian trade association, Rainer Will, defended rising prices in supermarkets saying at present only a fifth of the price increases were being passed on to customers.

In response to the higher prices Austria has put back plans to enforce labelling for meat, milk and eggs showing the origin of raw materials to 2023, Der Standard newspaper reports, in order to keep costs lower.

Funding of 6.5 million euros up for grabs in Vienna for climate projects 

The City of Vienna will provide 6.5 million euros this year to districts which can show great ideas to make their area more climate friendly, in the hope of emulating cities such as Paris. The funding will be made available  for three districts per year.

Online submissions are possible until June 6th. The idea must have a positive impact on the climate and the City of Vienna must be able to implement it within two years. Both individuals and groups can participate. There is more information here.

READ MORE: ‘Cool streets’: How Vienna is preparing for climate change and heatwaves

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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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