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

Sepp Rieser, owner of the herd, watches decorated cows with bells and flowers before leaving their summer pastures during the annual ceremonial
Cows in Tyrol's Karwendel Alpine nature park near Pertisau, Austria. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP
Find out what's going on in Austria on Monday with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

Disagreement over easing steps

Disagreement continues within Austria’s governing coalition about the next steps to take to ease coronavirus restrictions, according to broadcaster ORF. Chancellor Kurz has announced likely easing steps regarding face masks and social distancing measures in shops ahead of a meeting with state governors scheduled for May 28th. However, Health Minister Mückstein indicated the announcement had not been coordinated with him and that he advised greater caution, noting that some restrictions were likely to remain in place until the end of the year.

Seven-day incidence at 48

The seven-day incidence, or number of infections per 100,000 people, continues to fall and is now 48. The federal state with the highest seven-day incidence is currently Tyrol with 72.9, followed by Vorarlberg, Upper Austria and Styria (72, 55.2 and 54.2, respectively). Carinthia (46.1), Vienna (43.7), Lower Austria (37), Burgenland (30.9) and Salzburg (24.9) also follow.

Upper Austria opens vaccinations for everyone over 16 years of age

Upper Austria has opened vaccinations for all age groups from today. For the time being, those who have already registered have priority. From May 29th, all other Upper Austrians over the age of 16 can book an appointment directly. Another new feature is that when you register, you can find out which vaccine will be used at the respective appointment.

Masks until winter?

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) has told the Kleine Zeitung newspaper that people will still have to wear a mask until winter, especially when indoors. However, the mask requirement outside may be up for debate. 

Border controls to the Czech Republic and Slovakia lifted

Austria lifted the temporary reintroduction of border controls with the Czech Republic and Slovakia on Saturday morning. However, there will still be controls in place for people who cannot prove that they have been exclusively in Austria or their home country within the last ten days. They must present evidence they have tested negative, been vaccinated against or recovered from the coronavirus, or take a test within 24 hours. Those testing negative must quarantine for five days. 

According to the Ministry of Health, countries with a low incidence of infection are currently Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Liechtenstein, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, South Korea, Czech Republic, Hungary and the Vatican.

Austria supports Western Balkans’ EU accession

The Foreign Ministers of Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic, Anže Logar, Alexander Schallenberg and Jakub Kulhanek visited Tirana on Sunday, where they met with their Albanian counterpart Olta Xhaçka and emphasised their support of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said he hopes talks can begin as early as June. Schallenberg also indicated that Austria believes it is in the “strategic interest” of member states for the EU to expand not just to include Albania and North Macedonia, but also Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia, the Kronen Zeitung reports. 

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