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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 RULES

Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?

The EU has eased recommendations for face masks on flights and in airports, but member states are free to put their own rules in place.

Reader question: Do I need to wear a mask on flights to/from Austria?

Since Monday, May 16th, it is no longer mandatory to wear a medical-grade face mask on flights and at airports within the EU.

But Austria will continue with the rule for now, meaning that masks are required on flights to Austria.

The implementation of the EU recommendation is based on the national rules in individual countries. 

For flights, where a destination country has a mask rule in place, then masks must be worn. 

An Austrian Airlines spokesperson told the Kronen Zeitung: “The easing of the mask requirement is an EU recommendation that must be reflected in a national regulation in order to also apply in Austria.” 

The aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC states that if masks are mandatory on public transport at the point of departure or at the destination, then the regulation should also continue on board the aircraft.

According to current Austrian Covid-19 regulations, wearing an FFP2 mask is still required in hospitals, elderly and nursing homes, public transport (including stops and stations), taxis, customer areas of vital trade, such as supermarkets, and administrative buildings.

READ MORE: LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules

In addition to Austria, masks are still compulsory in some public areas in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy – all key tourism destinations for travellers from Austria.

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