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

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

Landed passengers with face masks at Vienna Airport in Schwechat
Landed passengers with face masks at Vienna Airport in Schwechat (ALEX HALADA/AFP)

‘Safe to travel again’ from May 19th

From May 19th, it will be easier for Austrians to travel abroad again, Der Standard newspaper reports. Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger told the Ö1 Morgenjournal as long as travellers have a negative corona test, have been vaccinated or tested and do not come from a high-risk area or a mutation area, they will not need to be in quarantine when they return to Austria.

READ MORE: Austria to wind back quarantine rules on May 19

Pregnant women to be vaccinated against coronavirus

Austria’s National Vaccination Board (NIG) recommended coronavirus vaccination for pregnant women yesterday, broadcaster ORF reports. Pregnant women will be given priority in the same group as people aged 70 to 74 and patients with an increased risk due to previous illnesses.

Lower Austria to open up vaccine registration to all age groups by 10th May

All age groups in Lower Austria will be able to register for vaccination from next week, broadcaster ORF reports. The registration will begin with over 50s on May 3rd. On May 5th, those in their 40s can register, on May 7th everyone in their 30s and from May 10th, everyone aged over 16. Lower Austria’s vaccination coordinator estimates around 65 percent of the population will be willing to be vaccinated.

READ MORE: Lower Austria first state to start vaccinating all members of the public

Tyrol will soon move on to over 50s in vaccination campaign

Tyrol has almost finished vaccinating everyone over 65 years of age and its high-risk population,  Health Director Thomas Pollak said on Wednesday according to broadcaster ORF. The region will soon begin vaccinating people aged over 50.

Salzburg, Styria and Vienna lag behind in vaccination campaign

Salzburg, Styria and Vienna are lagging behind in the vaccination campaign, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. It says 60,689 health care workers, school and kindergarten staff from Lower Austria and Burgenland were vaccinated in Vienna, which means Vienna is “missing” 40,949 vaccination doses. Discussions about vaccine compensation are already being held in the Ministry of Health.

Chamber of Commerce calls for company vaccination to begin

The Chamber of Commerce (WKÖ) is calling for vaccination to be rolled out in companies in Austria in May. Companies in line to receive vaccines directly from the federal government include Porr, Post, ÖBB, OMV and A1 Telekom Austria, according to media reports. The Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports Vienna Airport, Magna and Erste Group are also trying to get a vaccine against Covid-19 and supermarket chains plan to immunise their employees from the middle or end of May. 

Seven day incidence at 168

The seven day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 168. The value is currently lowest in Burgenland (99.9) and Lower Austria (123.8), and highest in Vorarlberg (251.8) and Salzburg (188.4) according to the AGES database.

EU reforms for health, pensions, childcare and taxes to be discussed

The European Development and Resilience Fund (RRF) for Austria will go before the Council of Ministers today,  Der Standard newspaper reports. The EU’s specifications for reforms in Austria will be addressed. These include reform of the health and care system, reducing excessive dependency on the hospital sector, pension reform, changes to research, development and education and expansion of childcare to help women work full time. There should also be changes to payroll taxes and social security contributions. The Der Standard newspaper reports at 55 percent, the share of taxes on labour is one of the highest in the Union. 

Hospitality sector hit hard in Austria by lockdown

Travel warnings and lockdowns cost tourism in Austria a total of 105 million overnight stays from March 2020 to March 2021, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports – a decrease of 62 percent. According to Statistics Austria, the hotels and pensions only booked 4.56 million overnight stays between November and March, 55.02 million fewer than in the same period of the previous year, a decrease of 92.4 percent.

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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 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.