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

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

Today in Austria: A round-up of the latest news on Tuesday
Photo: AFP

Hints at opening steps

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has given some hints as to how Austria could open up again in mid-May. The opening will be carried out with “very strict conditions”, broadcaster ORF reports.

For example, there will be a testing requirement in the catering and tourism sectors, but not for retail, said the Chancellor on Tuesday in the Ö1 morning journal.

The opening plan will be drawn up by a commission, with the first details available at the end of the week. Kurz promises by the summer, 200,000 people should be back in employment. 

Seven day incidence at 194

According to the AGES database, the seven-day incidence or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 194.2.

Vienna has the highest seven-day incidence of all federal states with 247.6, Burgenland the lowest with 122.3.

More funding for investment in business as part of ‘come-back plan’

The government will increase funding for investments for business from €3 to €5 billion as part of the ‘comeback’ package for the economy the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports.

At the Council of Ministers on Tuesday, at the end of the government meeting, an increase in the federal budget deficit by €8 billion to €31 billion will be decided. 

Plan meets with some criticism 

The Der Standard newspaper says in a comment piece it is “half a comeback plan” at best. The paper reports the plans mean in the case of companies that invest in new computers or machines, the state subsidises seven percent of their expenditure, and up to 14 percent in the case of investments in the health sector and digitisation.

However, the outlet points out some branches of the economy such as industry do not need government help, and there is no prerequisite for the money to go on new projects.  

More concrete measures?

Die Presse newspaper asks for the government to reveal more concrete measures, asking when wage tax brackets two and three will go down, and when corporate income tax will gradually be reduced to the 21 percent stipulated in the government programme.

It also comments that reduced employer contributions for employees and tax exemptions for first time buyers have been promised.

Austria to return to pre-crisis levels of unemployment by 2023

 A board member of Austria’s Public Employment Service (AMS) Johannes Kopf says Austria could return to the pre-crisis level of unemployment by early 2023, Die Presse newspaper reports. To achieve this, the situation in tourism and gastronomy would have to improve and there would have to be “sustainable growth” in the next year.

 Phase out of coal, oil and gas heating 

Environment and finance ministries agreed with the federal states on Monday to gradually ban coal, oil and gas heating, Austria’s Der Standard newspaper reports.

The phase-out should take place in two steps: coal and gas should only be used for space heating until 2035, natural gas until 2040.

 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Austria's autumn Covid-19 plan includes a fourth Covid-19 dose to all those older than 12 and the Health Ministry doesn't rule out further measures, especially a return of the mask mandate.

Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Austria’s Health Ministry and the country’s National Immunisation Panel (NIG) have recommended a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to the general population ahead of autumn.

Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) and physician Herwig Kollaritsch of the Immunisation Panel have requested people take the vaccination before the cold months, reiterating that the Covid-19 vaccine is safe and protects against more severe courses of the disease.

“You can do a lot before autumn. Don’t wait until the numbers rise. Get vaccinated, take the booster shots”, Kollaritsch said in a press conference this Wednesday, August 31st.

READ ALSO: LATEST: The Covid rules across Austria from August 2022

The previous recommendation was only for people older than 60 or those in risk groups. “After there was already the booster recommendation for the vulnerable and over 60-year-olds over the summer, all other groups are to get a booster in the coming weeks,” the health minister said.

Only 58.9 percent of the population is currently sufficiently vaccinated, as per the recommendation of the National Immunisation Panel (NIG) – which for the majority of the population is three doses – or if they’ve had Covid then two doses and a recent recovered status.

New measures ahead of autumn

The health minister stopped short of announcing new Covid-19 measures for autumn.

When he announced the end of the mask mandate in the country back in May, Rauch had said the suspension would be “temporary” and masks were likely to return after summer, depending on the pandemic, particularly on hospitalisation numbers.

Currently, masks are obligatory in the health sector and on public transport in Vienna.

“We evaluate the situation weekly by talking with the hospital heads in the states. We have a very good view of the Covid-19 data, and we don’t rule out bringing measures back in the future”, he said.

READ ALSO: Vienna extends stricter Covid-19 rules until late October

He added: “It is likely that in the autumn, compulsory masks will again be useful and necessary in certain areas such as public transport or supermarkets,”.

For now, though, the minister said he recommends people to get vaccinated, wear masks where social distancing is not possible, and get tested regularly – even if those measures are not mandatory.

When should you get vaccinated?

The fourth vaccination should come a minimum of four months after the third one (or after a Covid-19 infection) but not after six months of the third dose (regardless of whether or not the person has had an infection after the last vaccine), according to the NIG.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Which Austrian states will allow Covid-infected teachers in classrooms?

For children between five and eleven years of age, the basic immunisation – which consists of three vaccinations – should be completed by the start of school at the latest; no booster vaccination is currently recommended in this age group.

Austria expects vaccines adapted to the omicron variant to arrive in the country before the end of September, the health minister said.

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