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CHANCELLOR SEBASTIAN KURZ

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

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

   Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Tourism Minister Elisabeth Koestinger, Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler and the secretary for culture Andrea Mayer have lunch at the Schweizerhouse in the Prater  in Vienna. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Tourism Minister Elisabeth Koestinger, Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler and the secretary for culture Andrea Mayer have lunch at the Schweizerhouse in the Prater  in Vienna. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Cafes, hotels and restaurants open again, along with culture and sports venues

Austrians across the country enjoyed coffee or a beer again in a cafe, restaurant or pub on Wednesday. It was the first day restaurants and cafes had opened up across the country for more than six months.

Robert Seeber, chairman of the tourism department in the Chamber of Commerce described May 19th, 2021 as the day of the Renaissance for Austrian tourism and added “Never again lockdown!”, broadcaster ORF reports.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz went to Vienna’s Schweizerhaus in the Prater for lunch, where he was heckled by corona deniers. Afterwards he paid another visit to the Vienna State Opera house. 

READ MORE: How Austria celebrated dining out after a six month lockdown

Pharmacies now issue vaccination certificates

People who have already been vaccinated against Covid-19 can now have proof of their immunisation printed out from the electronic vaccination card in pharmacies. The service is available to those insured who are also entitled to use free tests in pharmacies, according to the Chamber of Pharmacists.

Limited wearing of masks possible in June – if half population vaccinated

Complexity researcher Peter Klimek from MedUni has told the Wien Heute programme that mask wearing could soon only be obligatory in sensitive areas such as hospitals, provided 40 to 50 percent of the population are fully vaccinated. He said this might be possible from June. 

Seven day incidence is 59

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 59.3. The number is highest in Vorarlberg (103) and Tyrol (82.1). The value is lowest in Burgenland (33.3) and Lower Austria (43.5).

Vienna vaccinates homeless people 

Since this week, homeless people and refugees living in communal shelters and emergency shelters have also been vaccinated in Vienna.

The single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine was used. Of around 7,300 people in Vienna who live in emergency shelters or as refugees in basic care facilities, around 4,300 have been earmarked for a vaccination. Some have already received a jab due to their age or pre-existing health conditions, broadcaster ORF reports. 

Hotels will not return to 2019 levels before 2023

Hotels in Vienna recorded 76,000 overnight stays in April, according to Vienna Tourism, the Wiener Zietung newspaper reports. That was five percent of the April 2019 figure, when 1.6 million overnight stays were recorded, 39,000 of which were by Austrians.

The net sales of the accommodation establishments from January to March amounted to €18.7 million- a decrease of 84.9 percent compared to the previous year. Vienna Tourism says it does not expect to reach 2019 levels before 2023/24. 

New President of Fiscal Council

Outgoing Wifo boss Christoph Badelt will become the new President of the Fiscal Council, which monitors compliance with the EU budget rules in Austria, the Wiener Zietung newspaper reports. In the past, Badelt has repeatedly called for more speed in combating the climate crisis and in February he also called for a reform of the “lopsided tax structure” in the business journalists’ club.

Badelt criticized the high taxation of labor income combined with low taxes on assets and greenhouse gas emissions. Badelt is against a classic wealth tax, but could imagine higher taxes on real estate and capital gains, the outlet reports.

Inflation falls in April

The rate of inflation fell slightly again in Austria in April to 1.9 percent , after having reached two percent in March. 

Within a year fuel prices increased by 12.7 percent and are thus back to the pre-crisis level of February 2020, said Statistics Austria Director General Tobias Thomas, the Wiener Zietung newspaper reports.

Deficit to increase

Austria’s deficit will be increased again by the National Council on Wednesday by €8.1 billion to €30.7 billion, with an amendment to the Federal Finance Act, Die Presse newspaper reports 

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CHANCELLOR SEBASTIAN KURZ

Church slams Austria’s ‘Islam Map’

The Austrian Catholic church became the latest religious group to criticise a government-backed, online map of hundreds of Islamic organisations which sparked violence against the country's Muslim minority.

Church slams Austria's 'Islam Map'
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Photo: JOHANNA GERON / POOL / AFP

The highly controversial map shows details of more than 600 Muslim associations — from youth groups to mosques — including details on their location and photos of members.

The map was first presented by a government-funded group monitoring Muslim extremism and by Austria’s Integration Minister Susanne Raab, a member of conservative, anti-migration Austrian People’s Party (OeVP), who called it a tool to “fight political Islam as a breeding ground for extremism.”

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the head of the Austrian Catholic church, wrote in an op-ed Friday that it was “dangerous to give the impression that one of the religious community is under general suspicion”, and asked why one of the country’s many religious communities was singled out.

Umit Vural, head of the Islamic Religious Community of Austria, described the map as a “massive security threat” to Muslims, while the Muslim Youth Austria organisation said several Muslims had already been attacked and a mosque has been defaced since that map went online in late May.

About a quarter of Austria’s majority Catholic population vote for the Islamophobic far-right party, and far-right extremists in the past week have put up signs reading “Be careful! Political Islam is near you” on streets where the map showed Muslim organisation, calling on “fellow patriots” to join them.

EU Special Representative on Antisemitic and Anti-Muslim Hatred and Hate Crimes Daniel Hoeltgen urged the government to take down the map, while a range of representatives of other religious communities, including the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt, also rebuked it.

Verbal and physical attacks against Muslims have already been on the rise since an Austrian-born Jihadist killed four in Vienna in early November, according to a group documenting Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism.

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