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

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

Dachshund Archibald enjoys a drink in Seestadt, a suburb of Vienna in Austria during the heatwave (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Dachshund Archibald enjoys a drink in Seestadt, a suburb of Vienna in Austria during the heatwave (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Warnings over Delta variant from Austria’s Covid-19 commission

Austria’s Coronavirus Traffic Light Commission is concerned about the spread of the delta variant and warns of a “systemic risk” in summer, broadcaster ORF reports. However the commission also stated on Thursday that the Covid-19 risk assessment for all of Austria and for all federal states was to be classified as low”.

The delta variant, or the virus mutation B.1.617.2, is not only more infectious than previous mutations, but also lead to more severe courses of the disease, especially in the non-vaccinated population.

Around 6.3 percent of cases in Austria involve the delta variant, which initially appeared on a large scale in India. The commission called for faster vaccination and more PCR testing.

READ MORE: What is Austria’s new five-colour Covid traffic light system?

Seven day incidence is 15.5

The 7 day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 15.5. No federal state has a value more than 30, Styria (7.3), Salzburg (8.8) and Burgenland (8.5) are below, Carinthia at 10.0. Vienna has the highest value with 29.2.

Further easing of coronavirus pandemic measures in July

As The Local reported on Thursday, further easing of coronavirus pandemic restrictions are set for July, though the 3G requirement (showing proof that you have been vaccinated, have tested negative or have recovered from the virus) will stay in place.

Bars and restaurants will no longer have to close at midnight, while capacity and space restrictions will be dropped in almost all industries.

Drinking at the bar and dancing will be allowed again and clubs can open up again to 75 percent capacity. In addition, the FFP2 mask rules for shops and restaurants will be relaxed


Million pound cycle path project for Salzburg

The city of Salzburg will create a major cycle path costing one million euros. It will stretch for one kilometer along the Innsbruck main road between the Maxglaner junction and the airport underpass. Construction is to start in 2022. 

Bonus for hospital and care staff

Austria’s National Council decided on Thursday on a bonus for employees in hospitals and care homes because of the coronavirus pandemic. It should average out at around 500 euros per person. The ruling coalition (ÖVP and Greens) said it meant the work of these people during the pandemic would be recognised, the opposition criticised a “wishy-washy motion” in which numerous employees had been forgotten. Cleaning staff will be included in the bonus scheme but not builders.

Individual states or institutions can decide what bonus is appropriate, for example in the case of a worker in intensive care or on a Covid-19 ward. 

Tyrol Governor wants to shoot local wolves

Austria’s Agricultural Councillor Josef Geisler (ÖVP) is hoping to follow Finland’s example and make it legal to shoot “problem wolves” in Tyrol. Wolves should be shot there if herd protection measures do not work, Geisler told the APA. This year, there has been one wolf and four bear attacks which have led to farm animals being killed in Tyrol.

Last year  there were 250 incidents in which sheep and goats were injured or disappeared due to large predators. Geisler said in nearby Italian Trentino, around 100 young wolves are born every year. 

READ MORE: Seven hazards to avoid when you’re outside in Austria

Compulsory vaccination for new hospital staff in Styria 

In Styria, new employees in hospitals must be vaccinated against Covid-19, following a meeting – this is the direction in which representatives of Med-Uni, hospitals and the state of Styria on Thursday afternoon. As The Local reported on Thursday, this is already the case in Vienna. 

READ MORE: Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory for all new health and social workers in Vienna

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EXPLAINED: Who will be Tyrol’s new governor?

The Austrian state of Tyrol held elections over the weekend with historical results, especially for the leading ÖVP party. So who will be its new governor?

EXPLAINED: Who will be Tyrol's new governor?

The western Austrian state of Tyrol is a stronghold for the centre-right party ÖVP, which also leads the governing coalition in the federal government. On Sunday, Austrian citizens went to the polls for the state parliament elections, forming new legislation – and putting their support on their favourite candidates.

Even though the ÖVP got most of the votes, it is far from getting a majority and will need to enter into a coalition to rule. The party got 34.71 percent of the votes, down by 9.55 percentage points from the previous elections and a significant setback for the blacks. However, this gives them 14 seats in parliament.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How do Austrians elect their chancellor?

The centre-left SPÖ ended with 17.48 percent of the votes – just 0.23 percentage points higher than the last vote in 2018, getting seven seats. On the other hand, the far-right FPÖ got a major victory, upping their results by 3.31 percentage points and reaching 18.84 percent, guaranteeing seven seats in parliament.

The Grüne ended with 9.20 percent (three seats), Fritz with 9.90 percent (three seats), Neos with 6.28 percent (two seats), MFG with 2.78 percent, KPÖ with 0.67 percent and Mach mit with 0.13 percent.

How does the election process work?

Tyrol, much like the Austrian federal government, has a parliamentary system. This means voters will choose the parties they want to have seats in the state parliament. So, for example, ÖVP will get about a third of the seats in the house.

The parties need a minimum percentage of votes to get representation in the parliament. Even though MFG, KPÖ and Mach Mit got votes, they have failed to elect representatives and gain seats in the state parliament.

READ ALSO: Austrian presidential elections: What exactly does the president do?

After the parliament is elected, its members then choose a governor. In practice, since the parties already run with a suggested government candidate, people who vote for them also know which person they elect for the executive position.

In the case of ÖVP, Anton Mattle, the 59-year-old career politician, was the party’s choice for the top state job. Had the party won more than 50 percent of the votes, they would be able to elect Mattle, the new governor, without discussing it with other parties.

But, since it didn’t, the ÖVP now will start talks with other parties looking to form a majority government and elect Mattle – plus ensure that by having a clear majority in the state parliament, they will be able to pass legislation.

What coalitions are possible?

Technically, any coalitions between two or more parties that lead to a majority in the state legislature are possible, even those without ÖVP. However, since the centre-right party got the most votes, it traditionally receives the right to try and form a government first.

Experts believe the most likely scenario is for a major coalition between the blacks and the reds, meaning the ÖVP and the SPÖ. They would have to discuss their main government proposals, the distribution of executive positions and other points to see if an ÖVP-SPÖ government is possible.

READ ALSO: Austrian presidential elections: Why 1.4 million people can’t vote

An ÖVP-FPÖ coalition could also technically have a majority, but Mattle had already rejected the idea of an agreement with only the far-right.

Additionally, ÖVP could look into a three-way coalition, bringing, for example, the Grüne and Fritz to the government.

So who will be the next governor?

It is most likely that Anton Mattle, from the ÖVP, will get the job. The only question is who his party will be ruling with.

He told Austrian media that the exploratory talks for a coalition agreement would start in the coming days.

READ ALSO: Austrian presidential elections: Who are the seven candidates?