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EASTER

Vienna to make wearing face masks compulsory outdoors

People who wish to gather in busy areas outside in Vienna will have to wear FFP2 masks outside from Thursday when a hard lockdown comes into force.

The Danube canal in 2017
JOE KLAMAR / AFP

From Thursday, everyone visiting the Danube Canal, Schwedenplatz, Stephansplatz, Karlsplatz and Maria-Theresien-Platz will be required to wear an FFP2 mask. 

The FFP2 mask requirement will also extend to Resselpark near Karlsplatz, and could be extended to other areas which become too busy, Vienna’s Mayor Michael Ludwig told the Austrian press agency APA, newspaper Wiener Zeitung reports. 

Other areas such as Yppenplatz in Ottakring are under consideration, newspaper Heute reports. However, Vienna’s Kärntner Straße will not have a mask requirement, as the authorities feared it would drive people into narrower side streets, the paper reports. 

Austrian newspaper Der Standard reports large parks such as the Prater will not be put under a mask requirement. 

Outdoor places which require FFP2 masks to be worn will be clearly signposted, Heute newspaper reports. 

‘Easter Rest’ to start on Thursday

EXPLAINER: What is allowed in eastern Austria during the hard lockdown over Easter

Thursday will be the first day of an “Easter rest” period across Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland. During this time people will be asked to stay home, and only leave the house for limited reasons, such as for rest and relaxation, exercise, to buy groceries or essential items, or to seek medical help. 

However, the first day of lockdown will coincide with summer temperatures, meaning Vienna could reach up to 24 degrees, tempting many residents outside to enjoy the sunshine.

READ MORE: Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland to re-enter strict coronavirus lockdown

Non essential retail will close as will hairdressers, museums and zoos and people will be asked to limit their contacts. It is also not allowed to travel out of the eastern states in lockdown to go shopping, visit a hairdresser or to go on holiday.

The Easter pause will stay in place in Burgenland and Lower Austria up to and including April 6th. It has already been extended in Vienna until April 10th. 

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ENERGY

Energy costs: Vienna to support 200,000 households with up to €500

The City of Vienna is expanding its group of homes that can receive an energy cost voucher by the end of the year. Here's what you need to know.

Energy costs: Vienna to support 200,000 households with up to €500

Austria’s capital Vienna is expanding a program to subsidise part of the energy bills of around 200,000 eligible households, the City said in a press release.

“Energy costs are difficult for many Viennese to cope with in the current situation. We are helping those who need the support most urgently – and we are doing so in a targeted manner by settling outstanding bills with energy providers”, City Councillor for Social Affairs Peter Hacker said.

The City has already agreed with state-run energy company Wien Energie that, from December 2022 to February 2023, no electricity, gas or heat shutdowns will happen – regardless of any payment issues.

READ ALSO: From lighting to ice skating: How Vienna plans to save energy

Now, a group of more vulnerable people can apply for Energy Support Plus to get up to €500 in aid with their energy bills.

The following people can apply online at wien.gv.at for Energy Support Plus: Recipients of Vienna minimum income (Bezieher*innen von Wiener Mindestsicherung), housing assistance (Wohnbeihilfe), AIVG benefits (AIVGLeistungen), a compensatory or supplementary allowance (einer Ausgleichs- oder Ergänzungszulage), GIS-exempt persons and low-income earners (GIS-Befreite und Geringverdienende) who are covered by the cost cap of the Renewable Expansion Act, those entitled to sickness benefit (Krankengeld), rehabilitation benefit (Rehabilitationsgeld), reintegration benefit (Wiedereingliederungsgeld) or transitional allowance (Übergangsgeld).

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to keep energy bills down in Austria

Applications can be submitted until December 31st, 2022. The maximum subsidy amount is €500 per household.

The service telephone of the Department for Social Affairs, Social and Health Law, is available at 01/4000-8040 for information and assistance with applications. Wien Energie’s customer service also offers personal assistance with the application process at Spittelau.

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