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

Temperatures to hit 30 degrees, Covid-19 infections back to January levels, calls for EU to fix electricity pricing and more news on Monday.

A woman places flowers in front of the Soviet War Memorial
A woman places flowers in front of the Soviet War Memorial during a protest against Russia’s war in Ukraine at Schwarzenbergplatz in Vienna, Austria, on May 8, 2022. The monument was built to commemorate 17,000 Soviet soldiers who were killed in Vienna during World War II. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

It’s going to hit 30 degrees this week as summer comes to Austria

Temperatures will hit the 30-degree mark in Austria for the first time this year on Wednesday or Thursday, with Tyrol, Lower Austria and Burgenland seeing the highest temperatures. However, on Thursday afternoon there is a chance of rain showers or thunderstorms in mountainous areas.

According to broadcaster ORF,  climate change means it’s getting hotter earlier every year in Austria. According to the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics Austria used to hit its first temperatures of 30 degrees on May 30th (on average) between 1961 to 1990.

There are also a huge number of trees coming into blossom due to the warm temperatures, with ORF commenting hazel, sloe and bird cherry trees are endowed with an “enormous abundance” of flowers this year.

Covid-19 infection numbers at lowest value since mid January

There were 3,617 new cases of Covid-19 reported on Sunday, as many as in mid-January. Just 946 Covid patients are in hospital (81 in intensive care units), a drop of 37 compared to the previous week. The federal state with the highest seven-day incidence is currently Lower Austria with 547.8, followed by Vienna, Burgenland and Upper Austria (538.1, 499 and 349.9 respectively). This is followed by Salzburg (323.6), Vorarlberg (304.8), Carinthia (290.1), Styria (276.1) and Tyrol (267.1).

Austria is close to recording 20,000 deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic, with 19,792 recorded so far.

Austria calls for EU to change electricity pricing

The President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO), Harald Mahrer (ÖVP), has spoken out in favour of a temporary change to the way electricity pricing is calculated in Austria. Mahrer said European regulations were needed, as the electricity price exchange did not respect national borders.

The price for a megawatt hour of electricity is currently determined on the electricity exchange using a special auction process, the merit order. This means that the most expensive power plant needed to meet the demand for electricity determines the price. These are currently gas-fired power plants, which, due to very high gas prices, has led to a sharp increase in the price of electricity – even if it is generated with hydropower, broadcaster ORF reports.

This form of pricing “in the current situation leads to an electricity price development that is incomprehensible to many”, especially since Austria’s electricity generation comes largely from renewable energy sources”, Mahrer said. 

Ukrainian community commemorate end of the Second World War 

On Sunday, at a demonstration on Vienna’s Schwarzenbergplatz, the Ukrainian community and guest speakers from Austria commemorated the 77th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Participants listened to a speech by President Volodymyr Zelenskyj which also drew parallels to the current war in Ukraine.

“During the Second World War, unfortunately, many Austrians committed numerous war crimes in Ukraine as part of the Wehrmacht and SS units,” former Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said in a speech pre-recorded for the demonstration. He said now was the opportunity to pay off this debt of fathers and grandfathers,  and pleaded for generosity towards  Ukraine and Ukrainians.

The Ukrainian community will continue their demonstration on Schwarzenbergplatz today (Monday). The site in Vienna where the Soviet Heroes’ Monument is located has traditionally been used by the Russian community for commemorative events on May 9th, the Soviet Victory Day.

Planned expansion of EU to include Balkans

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) is pushing ahead with his agenda to keep reminding the European Union of a planned expansion to include the Western Balkan states. Over the weekend he paid a visit to Sofia and Skopje to address the problem that EU member Bulgaria is blocking the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia, broadcaster ORF reports.

Schallenberg gave an interview in the Financial Times last week in which he called for the EU to give neighbouring countries quick access to “parts of the internal market”. 

Final chance to sign seven referendums 

Today, seven petitions for a referendum can still be signed online or in one of the approximately 2,000 registration offices. You can choose from a “rule of law and anti-corruption referendum”, “mandatory vaccination vote: Respect no”, “No to compulsory vaccination”, “Stop live animal transport agony”, “Increase unemployment benefit” and “Implement unconditional basic income”.

The petitions must gather  100,000 signatures to be guaranteed a discussion in parliament. The anti-corruption referendum has already cleared this hurdle.

All Austrians who are registered in an electoral register are entitled to sign the petition. The Ministry of the Interior will announce this evening how much support the seven requests have received.

READ MORE: Universal income and vaccinations: What’s at stake in Austria’s petition week?

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For members


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