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

   The state of Salzburg currently has the highest risk of contracting Covid-19, according to the latest report from Austria's Corona traffic light commission. (Photo by Sarah Mutter on Unsplash)
The state of Salzburg currently has the highest risk of contracting Covid-19, according to the latest report from Austria's Corona traffic light commission. (Photo by Sarah Mutter on Unsplash)
Find out what's going on in Austria on Friday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

Vaccine refusers could have benefits cut 

As The Local reported on Thursday, unemployed people in Austria may now have their benefits cut if they turn down a job via the Public Employment Service (AMS) because a Covid-19 vaccination is required to do the job. The sanction was first revealed in Der Standard newspaper. In the pandemic, potential employers in Austria are legally allowed to decide whether coronavirus vaccination is mandatory when hiring employees.

READ MORE: Could you lose unemployment benefits in Austria for refusing Covid-19 vaccine? 

Calling in sick to work by telephone allowed again 

People are allowed to call in sick  to work once more, due to the high numbers of Covid-19 infections. The Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK) is reintroducing notification of sickness by telephone for the whole of Austria. The measure is initially limited to the end of the year but can be extended at any time if necessary.

Salzburg has highest risk of contracting Covid-19

Salzburg is the only federal state in Austria to be deemed as having a “very high risk” of contracting Covid-19, according to Austria’s corona traffic light commission. The state is the only one to be coloured “red” by the commission, with all other states apart from Burgenland orange or “high risk”.  The risk-adjusted seven-day incidence, (which takes into account factors such as the age of patients), shows Burgenland is the only federal state below the value of 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. With 223.3, Salzburg has the worst value, ahead of Vienna (223.1, broadcaster ORF reports.

The traffic light commission’s risk assessment includes both the spread risk (threat to public health from the spread of Covid-19) and the systemic risk (risk of overloading the health care system with Covid-19 patients).

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

Operations in Vienna postponed due to pandemic

Operations in Vienna’s hospitals are already  being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, broadcaster ORF reports. This is not a general measure, but people are being asked if they would be willing to postpone their treatment, according to a spokesman for the health association on Thursday. Capacity is limited as the hospital must separate Covid-19 wards and other uninfected users of the hospital. 

In Vienna, 60 intensive care beds were occupied by Covid 19 patients in the health network on Thursday. A total of 150 intensive care beds are available for those affected.

According to the office of City Councillor for Health Peter Hacker (SPÖ), around 92 percent of Covid-19 patients in Vienna are not fully vaccinated. 

Large differences between schools in different federal states

There are large differences between federal states in Austria in terms of school classes in quarantine. For example, Tyrol reported that not a single whole class was quarantined after the first round of PCR tests, according to broadcaster ORF . In Vienna, there are already more than 600 classes in quarantine – 522 of the 720 schools are affected by the quarantine measures broadcaster ORF also reports.

School closure report shows Austria’s teenagers missed more school than younger children

A report into school and kindergarten closures between January 2020 and May 2021, shows younger schoolchildren missed out on fewer teaching days than older kids in Austria. The report notes that kindergartens in Austria were not closed at all, which was rarely the case in other countries. Elementary schools, AHS lower grades and middle schools each closed 74 teaching days, (below the average for the OECD countries). The situation was different for the upper grades, which were closed for 105 days and were thus above the OECD average of 101 days. There was a huge difference between universities and technical colleges: the universities were completely closed for 222 days – more than twice as many as the OECD average, broadcaster ORF reports.

 Cost of living in Austria ‘higher than Germany’

The cost of living in Austria is higher than in Germany but around the middle of the range compared to other European countries, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports, picking up on a report from the Federal Statistical Office in Germany  which surveyed living costs in 36 countries. Prices in Austria are about five percent higher than in Germany, according to the report. The most expensive country to live in was Switzerland, where the costs are 51 percent above the German level for private consumer spending.


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