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Vienna gets gay-themed traffic lights

Hundreds of gay-couple traffic lights have been introduced in Vienna in time for the annual Eurovision Song Contest, which this year is being hosted by the Austrian capital.

Vienna gets gay-themed traffic lights
Photo: MA 33

The traffic lights in central Vienna show male or female gay couples with hearts – in red for stop and green for go – replacing the usual single, gender-neutral figure.

One hundred and twenty pedestrian crossings will be equipped with the new traffic lights which are intended to show how open-minded Vienna is, Greens MP Maria Vassilakou said.

The new traffic lights will cost a total of €63,000 and are being introduced for a ‘test phase’ which lasts until the end of June.

It’s also hoped they will improve traffic safety as the unusual symbols will attract the attention of drivers and pedestrians, Vassilakou added.

Last year 22 children were injured on pedestrian crossings. Vassilakou said data will be collated to see whether the campaign has really helped traffic safety.

Readers of the mass circulation tabloid Kronen Zeitung have expressed their outrage at the move in the paper's comments section. “That's our tax money – not your private play money! Couldn't a better use for it have been found?” one reader fumed. 

“There's not enough money to help single parents or build new play parks but there seems to be plenty of money for senseless things,” another reader complained. 

Toni Mahdalik of the right-wing FPO party called the initiative gender politics “gone mad”, and said the money would have been better spent on reducing poverty and unemployment figures.

Singing sewers

Eurovision takes place in Vienna after bearded transvestite Conchita Wurst won last year's contest for Austria with the song Rise like a Phoenix and immediately became a gay icon.

On Vienna's busy high streets and squares, sewers have swapped gurgling sounds for musical tunes.

Cleverly hidden stereo systems inside the gutters play Austria's two winning Eurovision songs – one by Wurst and the other by 1966 champion Udo Jürgens.

They also promote this year's entry, I Am Yours by Austrian trio The Makemakes, currently ranked 21st of the bookmakers' favourites.

About 40 countries are taking part in the 2015 Eurovision contest, now in its 60th year, and the final will be held on May 23rd.

Vienna also hosts the Life Ball charity event on May 16th to raise money for the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Hollywood actress Charlize Theron, French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier and Conchita will be among the guests.

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TRAVEL

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

Find out what's going on in Austria on Friday with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

Travel should soon be easier thanks to the Green Passport ALEX HALADA / AFP
Travel should soon be easier thanks to the Green Passport (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

EU and Austrian green certificate for travel should be ready for June

EU countries and the EU Parliament have agreed on details of a digital Europe-wide certificate or “green passport” to give citizens proof of corona vaccinations, tests and having recovered from an infection with Covid-19.

This was announced by the Portuguese Presidency in Brussels on Thursday, and will hopefully make travel easier within the EU.The “digital green certificate” – in the form of a QR code – is to be introduced by the end of June.

‘3G Rule’: How to prove you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid in Austria

Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger said Austria would have its certificate ready by the beginning of June, and added the fall of the entry restrictions in many countries will make “vacation in Austria” possible again, Der Standard newspaper reports.

Wrong leg amputated at Austrian clinic

The wrong leg of an 82-year-old patient was amputated at a clinic in Upper Austria, Der Standard newspaper reports. The wrong leg was marked before the operation at the Freistadt Clinic. The patient’s second leg must now also be amputated from the middle of the thigh.

The patient and his relatives were offered psychological help, the paper reports, adding the doctor who carried out the amputation is currently not on duty at her own request. 

Seven day incidence at 55

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 54.8. In all federal states the number is now below 100 – with Vorarlberg (94.7) and Burgenland (36.0) having the highest and lowest values ​​respectively. 

Almost all federal states in Austria now yellow or orange

Vorarlberg is the only federal state to remain “red” or acute risk according to the coronavirus traffic light commission. Burgenland and Lower Austria were switched to yellow (medium risk) by the commission on Thursday, the rest of the country, with the exception of Vorarlberg, to orange (high risk). 

READ MORE: Explained: How does Austria’s coronavirus traffic light system work

Traffic jams expected this evening

Traffic jams are expected across Austria ahead of the Whitsun weekend, broadcaster ORF reports. On Friday afternoon there will be queues at the exits of the larger cities, warns the Ö3 traffic department.

Towards evening, and on Saturday, traffic is likely to shift more to the transit routes, with queues expected in Tyrol (A13, B179) as well as the border points at Walserberg (A8 / A1), the Karawanken tunnel (A11), Spielfeld (A9) and Nickelsdorf (A4).

Delays on the approaches to the tourist regions, such as on the connections on Lake Constance, the Carinthian lakes, in the Salzkammergut, the Neusiedler See, but also in the Wachau are expected. 

Austria crashes out of Eurovision 

Austria’s performer Vincent Bueno has failed to reach the last round of the Eurovision Song Contest. The 35-year-old singer from Austria “seemed very nervous” during his performance with the ballad “Amen” and could not reach top form, Der Standard newspaper reports. 

No wave of bankruptcies predicted in Austria 

State aid during the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to cause backlogs in company bankruptcies, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. A  Creditreform survey Austria had the steepest decline in corporate bankruptcies in Europe with minus 40.7 percent compared to the previous year. However,Gerhard Weinhofer, Managing Director of Creditreform in Vienna, no longer expects a large wave of bankruptcies for Austria as soon as state corporate aid expires.

Mood brightening for construction and industry

The latest industry overview from UniCredit Bank Austria, which shows the mood in the industry is increasingly brightening, both in construction and the service sector, the Wiener Zietung newspaper reports.

However, supply bottlenecks for some raw materials and strong demand for intermediate products are  increasing production costs. The situation in retail is more pessimistic, and the retail climate in particular remains gloomy for the time being, according to Bank Austria.

Number of people in employment in Austria declines

The number of people in employment in Austria in 2020 has begun to decline for the first time, resulting in a shrinking of  the proportion of the population that finances the social system, Der Standard newspaper reports.

Population economist Binder-Hammer finds that the current social system is characterized by high taxes for employed people, a strong redistribution to the retired population and less protection for the young, who have suffered most economically in the recent crisis.

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