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VACCINE

Today in Austria: A round-up of the latest news on Friday

Find out what's going on in Austria today with The Local's short round-up of the news.

A cafe with chairs being set up outside
Will cafes open up in Austria in the spring? Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

Outdoor dining plan thrown into doubt by rise in intensive care cases

Austria’s planned further openings, including outdoor dining openings on 27th March are looking increasingly unlikely, according to Der Standard newspaper.

Coronavirus infections are rising rapidly and the number of intensive care beds occupied by corona cases has increased by 20 percent in one week.

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober has said he is “alarmed” by the latest figures the newspaper reports.

On Thursday, 2,324 new infections were registered in 24 hours. Planned opening steps in Easter will be decided on 15th March.

Vienna’s City Councillor says opening plan is “realistic”

However, Vienna Health City Councillor Peter Hacker told broadcaster ORF that opening outdoor dining areas in Vienna on March 27th was “quite realistic”.

He proposes making Vienna’s Stadtpark into a giant outdoor eating area. 

Coronavirus infections on the rise

The 7-day incidence or number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, has increased.

According to the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), it is 169 as of Thursday. The number is highest in Salzburg (223), Lower Austria (206.4) and Burgenland (205.1).

The value is still lowest in Vorarlberg (76.5) and Tyrol (114.4).

MAPS: Where are Austria’s coronavirus hotspots?

Exit controls in Carinthia

Exit controls are being introduced for the Carinthian district of Hermagor, which is currently particularly affected by the British coronavirus variant (B.1.1.7), with a seven-day incidence of 670.

From Tuesday, proof of a negative corona test taken in the previous 48 hours or coronavirus infection from the past six months will be required to leave the area.

Police will carry out controls at seven checkpoints. Schoolchildren will switch to distance learning.

Austria, Israel and Denmark plan joint vaccine production

Austria, Israel and Denmark want to join forces in vaccine production following a vaccination summit in Israel, which some European commentators saw as a signal that the EU’s cohesion in the fight against the pandemic is cracking.

READ: Austria and Denmark chided by EU ally over Israel vaccine plan

The heads of government agreed on a joint research foundation, initially endowed with 50 million euros to fund vaccine development projects, Der Standard reports.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says other states including EU members have already expressed interest in joining the cooperation. The Brilife vaccine, made in Israel, should hit the market next summer.

Curevac vaccine to be manufactured in Austria 

Biotech company Curevac will receive support from Novartis in the production of its Covid-19 vaccine.

Novartis will start manufacturing the vaccine in its Kundl plant in Austria in the second quarter, with the first doses expected to be delivered from the summer, according to German newspaper Handelsblatt.

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VIENNA

What makes Vienna the ‘most liveable city’ and where can it improve?

Vienna is once again at the top of the global liveability index, but what does it mean and where can Austria's capital still improve?

What makes Vienna the 'most liveable city' and where can it improve?

The Austrian capital city of Vienna made a comeback as the world’s most liveable city after it tumbled down to 34th place due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Now, Vienna tops a ranking dominated by Western European cities, and it scores highly in nearly all criteria, including stability, healthcare, education, and infrastructure, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

READ ALSO: Vienna returns to top ranking as world’s ‘most liveable city

What does each of these points mean and in which areas is the city still not the best?

The liveability score is reached through category weights, each divided into subcategories. The indicators are then scored based on either judgement of “in-house expert geography analysts and a field correspondent based in each city” for qualitative variables.

In the case of quantitative variables, the rating is calculated based on the relative performance of a location using external data, such as information from the World Bank or Transparency International, for example.

Karlskirche, or St. Charles Church, in Vienna (Copyright: © WienTourismus/Christian Stemper)

Stability

Vienna got a 100 percent score in this category, which is measured based on several indicators. The EIU rating evaluated the prevalence of petty crime and of violent crime. It also looked into the threat of terrorism, military conflict, and civil unrest threats.

Healthcare

This was another category Austria’s capital aced – and an improvement from the pandemic years, when it lost points on healthcare.

READ ALSO: Ten essential apps to download for living in Vienna

The rating considers the availability and quality of both private and public healthcare. It also looks into the availability of over-the-counter drugs and general healthcare indicators provided by the World Bank.

Education

Vienna got a total of 100 points for this category, which considered the availability and quality of private education and looked into World Bank data on public education indicators.

Infrastructure

Another 100 percent for Austria’s capital which was found to have a good quality of road network, public transport, international links, energy provision, water provision and telecommunications. The ranking also considered the availability of good-quality housing.

Theater in Vienna (© WienTourismus/Paul Bauer)

Culture & Environment

This was the only category where Vienna did not get 100 points. Instead, it scored 96.3, which was still higher than many of the top ten cities. Vancouver, Canada, was the only city at the top of the ranking that got a 100. Melbourne and Amsterdam also fared slightly better than Vienna.

READ ALSO: ​​The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

The category looks into humidity and temperature rating, the discomfort of climate for travellers, level of corruption, social or religious restrictions, level of censorship, sporting availability, cultural availability, food and drink, and consumer goods and services.

Among all of these indicators, only the humidity/temperature rating, which is adapted from average weather conditions, didn’t receive the highest grade.

What can Vienna do to get better?

Even in the indicators where the Austrian capital did well, there are always things to improve, especially concerning the risks to the quality of living that rising inflation and the Ukrainian war bring.

When it comes to weather, though the city cannot control when it rains or shines, there are many things it can do to improve living conditions on those scorching summer days or freezing winter evenings.

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

As summer and heatwaves arrive, it is already looking to bring more green areas and avoid “heat islands” building up in the city centre. It also has built fog showers, drinking fountains and increased offers of “cool” areas where people can escape the extreme heat.

Also, looking to reduce the use of cars and make life better for residents, Vienna is betting on the “15-minute city” concept. This means that Austria’s capital is trying to make the essential everyday routes and destinations, including metro stations, reachable by a 15-minute walk.

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