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

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

The facade of the Kunsthaus Wien Hundertwasserhaus (Hundertwasser house) designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)
The facade of the Kunsthaus Wien Hundertwasserhaus (Hundertwasser house) designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)

Doubts over EU-wide green pass 

Tourism Minister Köstinger said that achieving an EU-wide green travel pass allowing travel to resume by the summer would be a “challenge”, during an interview with public broadcaster ORF’s political talk show Pressestunde on 9 May, the Kronen Zeitung newspaper reports.

Köstinger also said Austria would strike bilateral agreements with neighbouring states if the green pass failed.

Seven day incidence is 105

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 105, according to the AGES database.

The number is highest in Vorarlberg (177.8) and in Styria (140.3). The number is lowest in Burgenland at 55.0.

Criticism of Finance Minister

Austria’s Deputy Chancellor Kogler has intensified his criticism against Finance Minister Blümel for the latter’s failure to provide evidence to the parliamentary inquiry into the Ibiza scandal in a timely fashion.

Kogler told the Kleine Zeitung newspaper that Blümel had shown “a lack of respect for the institutions, the Constitutional Court and parliament.”

Manufacturer MAN ‘can be forced’ to keep production site

German lorry and bus manufacturer MAN can be forced to respect a commitment it made in 2019 to preserve its production site in the Austrian town of Steyr until 2030, Der Standard newspaper reports, according to a legal opinion commissioned by a workers’ union.

AstraZeneca doses will not be offered in near future

There will soon be no more injections with the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in Austria, Der Standard newspaper reports. According to the Ministry of Health, it is most likely at all future first vaccination appointments will offer a vaccine by Biontech / Pfizer or Moderna.

As only 28,800 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson have been delivered this vaccine will not be offered widely. 

Appointments can be booked for all adults in Lower Austria

Everyone aged 16 and over can book a coronavirus vaccination appointment from today in Lower Austria. 

Vienna ‘slowest to vaccinate’

Vienna is the slowest to vaccinate its citizens out of all Austria’s federal states, broadcaster ORF reports. Around 543,000 people in Vienna have now received a first dose of the vaccine and 195,000 are fully immunized. According to the city, the reason is many people from Lower Austria and Burgenland who work in the capital were vaccinated in Vienna.

Vorarlberg will vaccinated everyone who is registered by mid-June

In Vorarlberg, all people – regardless of age or risk factors – who registered for a vaccine appointment by the beginning of May should be vaccinated against the coronavirus by mid-June, according to APA.

Delays on A23 

The Vienna Südosttangente (A23) was completely closed to the south on Monday morning after a truck caught fire, broadcaster ORF reports. The fire has now been extinguished. There are currently delays of around an hour on the approach from the Danube bank motorway (A22) to the Kaisermühlen junction. 

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

Mask rules being discussed with a possible relaxation on the way, Ibiza affair remembered, snake found in kindergarten sandpit and more news on Wednesday.

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

Austria’s National Council meets to discuss masks, the extension of pandemic laws and deficit 

Austria’s National Council will meet today (Wednesday) and Thursday. The new Minister of Agriculture Norbert Totschnig (ÖVP) is also expected to be sworn in this morning, having missed out on the ceremony due to a Covid infection last week. 

One item on the agenda is Austria’s mask rules. The council will discuss whether to extend the rules requiring masks to be worn in supermarkets, hospitals and banks over the summer. The current mask rules expire on July 8th. This law affects around 130,000 employees who work in retail. 

READ MORE: Austria to keep masks only in essential places from April 17th

The council will also extend laws aimed at countering the Covid pandemic, by ensuring the regulations in the Epidemics Act stay in place until June next year. This means the government will continue to have the right to impose exit restrictions from local epidemic areas and register people entering Austria. If necessary, it will still be possible for the government to make catering establishments and event organisers to collect the contact details of their guests.

Austria’s deficit will increase by 6.5 billion euros to 19.1 billion euros due to the effects of the war in Ukraine. Extra money will be spent on a national strategic gas reserve, energy relief packages and aid measures for displaced Ukrainians, while revenue is expected to fall due to lower economic growth, broadcaster ORF reports. 

Chancellor’s greeting to his party hints at further relaxation of Covid measures

Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) greeted his party on Saturday, saying: “So many in such a small room also means: so many viruses, but now we don’t care anymore.” He has since apologised and said he is aware the pandemic is still ongoing, according to the Kronen Zeitung newspaper. However, all entry rules to Austria were abolished on Monday, and the National Council will discuss mask wearing in supermarkets, banks and hospitals today (Wednesday). 

Gecko Chairwoman and Chief Medical Officer Katharina Reich has told the Kleine Zeitung newspaper that she believes masks should stay in essential retail. However, virologist Dorothee von Laer told the Kurier she considers dropping the mask requirement in July to be “justifiable”.

‘Ibiza scandal’ vice chancellor ‘regrets’ resignation 

The ex-FPÖ leader and vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, who left politics in disgrace following the Ibiza affair, which also led to the downfall of Austria’s coalition government, now says he regrets his resignation. Strache gave an interview with Puls 24 in the Ibizan villa which was the scene of the scandal on the three year anniversary of the event, in which he described himself as the victim of a political assassination. 

The scandal blew up after Strache was secretly filmed meeting the supposed niece of a Russian oligarch in an Ibizan villa. During the video Strache spoke of investing in one of Austria’s most popular newspapers, the Kronen Zeitung and getting rid of some of its journalists. He also promised state contracts in return for help with  FPÖ political campaigns. After excerpts of the video were published in May 2019, Strache retired as a politician. He now says this resignation was “probably my biggest mistake”.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the scandal which continues to grip Austrian politics

Survey shows almost half of job seekers in Austria want to work from home 

A survey of 1,000 visitors to the job portal found that around 47 percent would not be interested in a job which offered no flexibility around working from home. According to the survey, 63 percent have had good or very good experiences with flexible working. While working from home has increased during the pandemic, it is not  yet an established practice in all companies. 

For employees, home working means greater flexibility and can have a positive impact on work-life balance, the Kronen Zeitung newspaper reports. 

Snake found in kindergarten sandpit

Summer must be on the way, because yet another snake has been discovered hiding in Austria, not in a toilet this time, but in a kindergarten sandpit. 

Staff at a kindergarten in Pasching, Upper Austria called the ICARA animal rescue service out on Tuesday afternoon because there was a dice snake about 30 centimetres long hiding in the children’s sandpit. The snake was given treatment for a slight injury and then released, the Kronen Zeitung reports.

READ MORE: Why do snakes keep appearing in Austrian toilets?