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

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
 Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Vienna for the Climate Action Austrian World Summit. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)
Find out what's going on in Austria on Thursday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

Stricter restrictions introduced in Vienna

Vienna has decided to introduce stricter restrictions around testing for children aged six and for adults in the federal capital. Children must show proof of having tested negative or recovered from Covid-19 to go to a swimming pool or to go to a restaurant.

According to Vienna’s Mayor Ludwig, the age group of 0 to 19 years olds is currently responsible for 40 percent of infections in Vienna. Until now, children up to the age of ten were exempt from the obligation to test.

Adults may also no longer use “living room” antigen tests as proof, ORF reports, adding there are currently no separate tests for children, though a plan to use “lollipop tests” is being worked on.

The city will also ensure FFP2 masks remain obligatory in hospitals and nursing homes, and continue asking people to register when they visit a restaurant. 

READ MORE: Austria trials ‘lollipop’ coronavirus tests for children

Greens and ÖVP reactions to announcement

Austria’s Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) said he welcomed Vienna’s initiative in a tweet. He pointed out the pandemic was not yet over. However, the Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger of the centre-right ÖVP party said it was “absurd” to “unilaterally change the rules on the day before well-planned nationwide opening steps”, Der Standard newspaper reports.

She said it was too short notice for restaurants to change their rules, and would make life harder for families over the summer.

Easing of restrictions outside Vienna in Austria

Elsewhere in Austria, significant relaxations of coronavirus rules came into force on July 1st.

Limits on crowds were relaxed, nightlife started up again and  medical grade masks will no longer need to be worn anywhere except for hospitals and nursing homes. 

READ MORE: In detail: How Austria will relax its coronavirus measures from July 

ANALYSIS: Is Austria relaxing Covid-19 measures too quickly?

EU’s ‘Green Pass’ comes into force

The EU’s digital Covid-19 certificate comes into force today. This means that a QR code can be used to prove that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, tested negative for the disease or has survived an infection.

The certificate is recognised in all 27 EU countries as well as in Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

It should make traveling within Europe easier. Nevertheless, there are still different requirements when entering individual EU states.

Austria’s Wiener Zeitung newspaper says the pass will bring obstacles and confusion. Some countries such as Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, Romania and Switzerland have not yet activated all functions of the pass.

Furthermore, airlines are warning of longer waiting times.

Seven day incidence is 7.4

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 7.4. No federal state has a value above 20, many have a value below 10.0, and the trend has recently been falling. Carinthia (2.0) has the lowest rate, Vienna with 17.5 has the highest.

Arnie is back in Vienna!

The “Austrian World Summit” will take place in Vienna today, at which key environmental issues will be discussed.

The host is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who cycled through the city on Wednesday.

Storms cause millions of euros worth of damage in Styria and Burgenland

Firefighters were busy on Wednesday due to storms with hail in Burgenland. Trees were brought down and a boat ran into distress on Lake Neusiedl, although nobody was hurt, broadcaster ORF reports. Heavy rainfall combined with with hail and storms severely damaged agricultural areas in Burgenland and also in Styria. Initial estimates assume total damage in both federal states of €7.8 million. In total the damage from storms in Austria over the past week initially amounts to an estimated €73 million euros, ORF reports. 

Green pass now available without ‘Handysignature’

It is now possible to obtain your green vaccination pass, which from today will also work with the EU’s green pass, allowing easy travel between most countries in the EU, without a Handysignature (mobile phone signature) in Vienna.

The City of Vienna has sent out a communication which says anyone who has already been tested on a test street in Vienna, will be able to use a service called “homecare” and can access it with their 12-digit PIN.  Recovered and vaccinated  persons should be automatically notified by SMS once their vaccination certificate is available.

You can then use the link from the SMS and your 12-digit PIN to call up the vaccination certificate. In selected test streets, proof of recovery and proof of vaccination can be picked up as printouts.

National debt in Austria highest since records began

Austria’s national debt has risen to €326.9 billion or 87.4% of GDP in the first quarter due to the coronavirus crisis, reaching its highest level since records began in 1954, according to Statistics Austria data, Die Presse newspaper reports 


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