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

Having to wear FFP2 masks while working in grocery stores is making it hard to recruit and retain staff, the grocery trade association says. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)
Having to wear FFP2 masks while working in grocery stores is making it hard to recruit and retain staff, the grocery trade association says. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)
Find out what's going on in Austria on Tuesday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

‘Optimism’ for winter season from tourism industry representatives

The tourism industry and the Chamber of Commerce have expressed optimism over the new plan for winter tourism in Austria, which The Local reported on Monday. For people who have been vaccinated against or recovered from Covid-19 there should be few restrictions in terms of restaurants, tourism, taking cable cars, gondolas, après-ski or Christmas markets.

However, broadcaster ORF reports, from an economic point of view, bookings are expected to be far below pre-pandemic levels. However, the Chamber of Commerce (WKO) chairman of the tourism division, Robert Seeber, said it was important to have a strong infrastructure in place to enable the switch from antigen to PCR tests. 

EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s new Covid rules for winter sports and Christmas markets?

However, the President of the Medical Association, Thomas Szekeres, said the government should be talking about “apres-corona instead of apres-ski,” in his blog, as there has been a worrying increase in the number of Covid-19 intensive care patients and a stagnating vaccination rate of around 60 percent. He said winter tourism would be decided by “not politics, but the virus”. 

Austria’s Health Minister Robert Mückstein once again appealed to the population to get vaccinated before taking their winter holidays.

Grocery trade associations pleads for workers with 2G to be exempt from wearing FFP2 mask 

The grocery trade association is calling for workers in supermarkets to be made exempt from wearing the FFP2 mask if they show they are vaccinated against or have recovered from Covid-19 (the 2G rule).

Broadcaster ORF reports there are huge staff shortages, with currently almost 10,000 vacancies in the industry.

The trading companies Spar, REWE, Hofer, Lidl, MPreis and Unimarkt also signed the trade association’s appeal to end the mask requirement for these employees, saying it is making it difficult to recruit staff. The FFP2 mask requirement does not apply in trading companies outside of the grocery trade. 

Austria falls significantly behind EU average in vaccinations

Austria has fallen significantly behind the EU average in vaccinations for the first time, where 66 percent of people have had at least one dose of a vaccine against Covid-19. In Austria it is just 59.9 percent.

The front runners are Portugal, Malta and Spain, where four out of five residents have already received a vaccination.

However the number of first vaccinations given has increased slightly. Last week, 54,202 people were vaccinated for the first time – 3,000 more than the week before.

At the lowest point of the vaccination campaign in mid-August, there were only 36,754 first vaccinations given in one week, Der Standard newspaper reports. 

Vienna has 65 ICU beds filled with Covid-19 patients

In Vienna’s municipal hospitals 65 intensive care beds are already occupied by Covid-19 patients. Planned operations have already been postponed and religious and private hospitals have also been reintegrated into the pandemic management.

In addition 167 people are in hospital but not in intensive care with Covid-19, four more than at the weekend and 17 people are being cared for with post-Covid symptoms.

However, Der Standard newspaper says Vienna’s hospitals have not exhausted their capacities. A total of 150 intensive care beds are available for those affected – including those for high-flow oxygen therapy, some of which are also in normal wards.


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