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.

A cow grazes in a field in Saalfelden, near Salzburg, (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)
A cow grazes in a field in Saalfelden, near Salzburg, (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)

Vienna to decide today on reopening steps 

In Vienna, the decision will be made today whether to support the nationwide opening steps from May 19th in full or whether to proceed more restrictively. Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) has recently repeatedly shown scepticism about opening all areas at the same time, saying for example only outside dining may be possible initially until the end of May, according to reports.

Two shot dead in Salzburg village

Two people were shot dead on Thursday night in a single-family house in Wals-Siezenheim in Salzburg. According to the police, a 51-year-old killed his former partner and her mother, broadcaster ORF reports. The alleged perpetrator has since been arrested. He is said to have had two handguns with him.

Burgenland turns orange 

For the first time since the end of March, a federal state in Austria has a coronavirus traffic light colour other than red. The further commission has recommended Burgenland should be classified as “orange”, which still means there is a high risk of infection. The rest Austria remains red. Burgenland is well below the threshold of 100 infected people per 100,000 inhabitants, ORF reports, as is Lower Austria. If Lower Austria continues to show low numbers of infections for three weeks, it will also turn orange. 

EXPLAINED: How does Austria’s coronavirus traffic light system work?

Shortage of workers in tourism industry

The number of employees in the tourism industry fell by more than 40,000 last year, Der Standard reports. This reduction came despite short-time work and the extension of the commitment to reinstatement during the corona crisis. The decline in the hiring of apprentices was particularly dramatic, said Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) on Wednesday at a panel discussion in Vienna. She said labour shortages were one of the greatest challenges for Austria’s domestic tourism, even before the pandemic.

Building materials shortage

The construction sector is suffering from building material shortages causing fast-rising prices for wood, reinforced concrete, piping, and other materials, Der Standard newspaper reports. The newspaper indicates Austrian building companies are increasingly struggling with fluctuations in their supply chains and the inability of suppliers to offer relatively stable prices, amid increasing global competition for materials and high demand in China and the United States. There appears to be no expectation that prices will settle in the near future, the paper indicates.

Rise in online shopping

 The Austrian Economic Chamber (WKÖ) registered an 11.3 percent rise in online shopping within Austria in 2020 compared to the preceding year, indicating that the covid pandemic is driving accelerated growth, according to the Kronen Zeitung newspaper. At the same time, WKO expects that the market share for online is unlikely to grow beyond 15 percent of overall sales in the medium term, despite the government’s efforts to boost online sales through the digital platform Kaufhaus Österreich.

EU has no powers to set a minimum wage in Austria

Austria’s Labour Minister Kocher told a parliamentary subcommittee meeting on EU affairs on May 5th that the EU has no legal powers to set a minimum wage via legislation, Die Presse newspaper reports. Kocher was signalling Austria’s rejection of one of the main proposals in the EU’s labour market policy package to be discussed at the EU social summit.

Pilot project to recruit young people to work in Vienna

The City of Vienna is launching a pilot project with the Vienna Employee Promotion Fund (WAFF) and the University of Applied Sciences Campus Vienna to recruit people aged between 19 and 30 to work as administrative staff for the city. Jobs range from posts in human resources to customer service. Those taking part acquire practical alongside the university entrance qualification test at the FH Campus Wien. Those who successfully complete the project have the chance of a job, Wiener Zietung newspaper reports.

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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Covid-19 numbers on the rise, wages shrinking as cost of living increases, Finance Ministry official online communication and more news from Austria on Friday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Austria’s Covid commission alerts to 70,000 daily infections soon

Austria’s commission to assess the pandemic situation, known as GECKO (Gesamtstaatliche COVID-Krisenkoordination), has alerted to rising Covid-19 numbers, Der Standard reports.

The commission believes the daily number of coronavirus infections could reach 70,000 already this summer. This is mainly because people have been travelling more than in previous years while wearing masks less often.

READ ALSO: Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Wages are shrinking and consumption is rising

Austria’s economy will grow somewhat more strongly this year than expected in March, ORF reported.

However, according to the June forecast of the economic research institutes WIFO and IHS, the outlook for the year’s second half is much gloomier.

Since inflation is higher than expected in March, gross real wages will fall by a historic 3.9 percent. However, if inflation falls, the real wages should increase significantly, about 5.3 percent, in 2023.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

Finance Ministry to contact FinanzOnline users

If Austria’s Finance Ministry contacts you, don’t worry: they will be checking everyone’s data on the FinanzOnline platform.

The goal is to have up-to-date account data so that all the announced bonuses and payments to counter the rising cost of living to be made quickly and with no issues.

The contact will happen via the FinanzOnline website and e-mail to users who allow email contact.

Of course, whenever the government or authorities announce they will reach out to people, there are always criminals looking to take advantage of it. Therefore, ensure that the message you received is from FinanzOnline and check the official website directly instead of clicking on links.

READ ALSO: When will you get your cost of living ‘bonus’ payments in Austria?

School holidays start in the east

Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland students have started their nine-week summer vacations. In the remaining Austrian states, school holidays will only begin next week.

Classes will resume on September 5th for the east and September 12th in the Western states. Austria’s ÖAMTC traffic authority expects heavy traffic jams at the beginning of the month, especially as the summer holidays have also started in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and two German federal states.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in July 2022

A break in the heatwave

The west of Austria will have a small break from the heatwave this Friday, Austria’s meteorologic central ZAMG says. A cold front arrives from the west, and maximum temperatures will be between 18C to 21C in the region, with thunderstorms.

In Vienna and Burgenland, though, maximum temperatures continue high, reaching 35C during the day.

READ ALSO: Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms