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How Vienna wants to restrict restaurants and events to vaccinated people only

Authorities in Vienna have put forward one of Europe's strictest set of rules for entering restaurants, bars, events and nightlife venues.

How Vienna wants to restrict restaurants and events to vaccinated people only
A sign from a bar in the US which only allows vaccinated customers. Vienna has drawn up a similar plan. MICHAEL CIAGLO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

The Vienna state government wants to tighten 3G rules so that only those who have been vaccinated may visit restaurants, attend large events or bars and nightlife venues. 

Under the change, Austria’s 3G rules – which allow for people who have tested negative, been fully vaccinated or contracted the virus in the previous six months – would be wound back to a 1G rule only for the vaccinated in most examples in Vienna. 

Vienna health chief Peter Hacker said unvaccinated people should be banned from sports and leisure facilities, with similar restrictions for bars, restaurants and nightclubs. 

READ MORE: Will Vienna restrict sports, leisure and gastronomy facilities to the vaccinated?

“There is no way of getting around the fact that only vaccinated people should be allowed in” Hacker said.

Hacker said Vienna would have no hesitation adopting different rules to the rest of the country as it had done before.

“If the number of infections increases, and they look likely to increase at the beginning of the school year, then, for example, unvaccinated teachers will teach with masks.”

“Better to make things vaccination only rather than have more closures” Hacker said.

Austria’s Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said the government was contemplating restricting events to vaccinated people, but said such a move wouldn’t come into effect before October.

“I believe that before an increasingly precarious epidemiological situation in autumn we have to talk about a 1G rule – and I can certainly imagine that in October,” Mückstein told ORF.

This represented a change from what the minister said on Sunday, where Mückstein said it was too early to consider further tightenings. 

Support for Vienna’s plan, although nationwide solution remains preferred option

Thomas Szekeres, President of the Medical Association, said the federal government should “absolutely support” Hacker’s plan.

Hacker also has won support from businesses in the hospitality and gastronomy sector, who have said they would welcome rules which restrict entry to the vaccinated.

Several prominent entrepreneurs in the Vienna bar and restaurant scene told Krone on Monday that they support Hacker’s efforts.

“Peter Hacker’s move is the right announcement that we need now,” said Martin Ho, who owns several bars and restaurants in the Austrian capital.

David Schober, who runs several bars in Vienna, said the proposals outlined by Hacker would prevent further lockdowns.

“The Viennese advance is going in the right direction, which will save us lockdowns.”

Thomas Figlmüller, who runs Vienna’s famous Figlmüller schnitzel restaurant, said the change would be a constructive step in returning to normal.

“Any clear legal requirement that increases the vaccination rate and thus accelerates the return to normal is to be welcomed.”

Vienna Chamber of Commerce chair Peter Dobcak said more needed to be done to inform people about the importance of vaccination, particularly the large immigrant community in Vienna. 

Dobcak said bringing in such a rule too early would have “dramatic consequences” for the hospitality sector in Vienna. 

Several other Austrian states have said they would welcome stricter rules for the unvaccinated, including Styria, Carinthia and Tyrol, however they said a national approach should be pursued.

“That is absolutely the right approach, but it only works if the federal government and the states agree on clear measures together,” said the Styrian health councilor Juliane Bogner-Strauss (ÖVP) on Sunday.

Her counterpart in Carinthia said stricter rules for the unvaccinated were “unavoidable”.

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Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

With violent storms becoming increasingly common in Austria, here’s how to protect yourself (and your home) this summer.

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

Storms are a regular occurrence in Austria during the summer months, but the strength and frequency seems to be increasing.

Overnight on Tuesday, June 28th, both the Pöllinger and the Treffner rivers in Carinthia burst their banks causing widespread flooding, mudslides and damage across the region.

Reports on Wednesday morning said the villages of Treffen am Ossiacher See and Arriach (Villach-Land district) were still metres under water and several people had been rescued from the deluge.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

According to ORF, emergency services were still struggling to reach some areas and there were unconfirmed reports of missing people.

A Tweet from Unwetter-Freaks said: “Bad pictures from #Arriach in #Kärnten , which was hit by several storm cells last night. According to ORF, the place is currently cut off from the outside world and cannot be reached by the emergency services.”

Earlier this week, rural areas in Upper Austria were also hit by storms (overnight, June 27th) bringing torrential rain and hail the size of golf balls, which caused extensive damage to crops and grassland in the key agricultural state.

READ ALSO: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

The Klaus reservoir had to be drained of 200 cubic metres of water to avoid flooding and trees were brought down across the province by wind gusts – some up to 91 km/h.

The Kronen Zeitung reports the storm caused damage to around 16,000 hectares of agriculture land, with insurers estimating the cost to be up to €6.5 million.

One Tweet showed the size of the hail on Monday night and read: “In the night we had ‘light’ hail.”

Storms then hit the region again on Tuesday night leading to a lightning strike on a hay barn in the Mühlviertel and the flooding of an underground car park in Linz.

With the summer season far from over and the possibility of more wild weather in the coming months, here’s how to stay safe during storms in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

Check the weather report

It might sound obvious, but checking the weather forecast should be at the top of the list of summer storm preparations.

Unlike in the past, weather reports are now typically reliable, and apps like Bergfex and Accuweather are well-known for providing detailed forecasts and weather warnings.

However, long-range forecasts can change quickly, so if you’re planning a camping or hiking trip, be sure to check the weather between 24 and 48 hours before to avoid being caught out.

Additionally, the Österreichischen Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre) has regular updates about storms and weather forecasts for Austria and users can sign up for email and SMS notifications.

Stay indoors

According to the organisation, Die Helfer Wiens (The Helpers of Vienna) one of the biggest risks during a storm is being hit by a fallen tree or flying debris.

For this reason, they advise people (and pets) to stay indoors during a storm and close all windows and doors. 

If staying in a tent or campervan, it’s also a good idea to seek shelter in a building (if possible) until the storm has passed.

However, if you are outside during lightning, the Austrian Red Cross says the best approach is to crouch down into a ball to reduce the amount of contact you have with the floor.

READ MORE: How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

Stay away from the cellar

Cellars and underground car parks can quickly become flooded during heavy rain – as seen in recent storms in Upper Austria and Carinthia, and last year during violent storms across Austria.

Flash flooding can happen quickly (the clue is in the name), so stay away from cellars and underground spaces during a storm and call the emergency services if you suspect a flood in your home.

Remove plants and furniture from balconies

Having plants and flowers on a balcony is a lovely way to brighten up an outside space, but they risk being damaged during a storm.

To safeguard your pots and lovingly-planted flora, move them inside – especially during a thunderstorm with strong wind gusts and lightning.

The same applies to any outdoor furniture that could be damaged by wind or hail, like cushions, decorative objects and sun umbrellas.

Park cars under shelter

Hail is one of the leading causes of dents to bodywork on cars and damage to windscreens, both of which can be costly to repair.

If hail is forecast during a storm, park a car in a garage or under shelter, if possible. 

If strong wind is expected, then avoid parking a car under trees as debris, or even the tree itself, could end up landing on the vehicle.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How Austria banned everyone from the forest for 123 years

Don’t go into the forest

Whether walking or driving, the best advice is to stay from the forest or areas with lots of trees during a storm.

While sheltering under a tree can protect from rain or hail, lightning or strong wind can bring down trees. This makes the forest a dangerous place to be in a storm.

But if you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in a forest when a thunderstorm hits, stay away from low branches and tree trunks and crouch down low. Place any walking sticks or metal poles away from you and stay away from metal fences.

Avoid risky activities

Certain outdoor activities are especially hazardous if there’s a lightning storm. 

Any activity in an open area or that puts you into contact with water or metal is strongly advised against. So that means fishing, swimming, boating, cycling and golfing are out until the storm is over. 

Keep torches and candles ready

Power cuts are common during storms, so keep a stock of candles and torches ready in case you end up without electricity for several hours.

It’s also a good idea to have a portable USB charger to make sure your phone doesn’t run out of battery during an emergency.

Who to call in an emergency

These are the numbers to call if you need help from the Austrian emergency services during a storm.

122 – fire service (Feuerwehr).

133 – police (Polizei).

144 – ambulance (Krankenwagen or Rettungswagen).

120 – ÖAMTC emergency breakdown service.

123 – ARBÖ emergency breakdown service.

140 – mountain rescue.

Finally, 112 is the single European emergency number, whose operators will direct you to the relevant services. This number can even be called on a locked mobile phone without needing the pin.

Find out more with The Local’s guide on who to call and what to say in an emergency.