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

Sebastian Kurz rejects allegations he was involved in making deals with the Österreich newspaper (Photo by STEFANIE LOOS / AFP)
Sebastian Kurz rejects allegations he was involved in making deals with the Österreich newspaper (Photo by STEFANIE LOOS / AFP)
Find out what's going on in Austria on Thursday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

Austria’s Chancellor rejects allegations after raid

Austria’s Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has rejected all allegations that he was involved in deals with newspapers  regarding onion polls  and adverts in the newspaper Österreich using public money, which led to raids on his offices on Wednesday morning, broadcaster ORF reports. He also rejected calls for his resignation from the opposition in an interview in the broadcaster’s ZIB2 programme, and said he could not imagine his party’s coalition with the Greens breaking down. He pointed out that in the period investigated, 2016, he was foreign secretary, not chancellor. 

READ MORE: Offices of Austrian Chancellor Kurz’s party raided in Vienna

Tougher 3G workplace rules are being drafted by the Ministry of Health 

Tougher 3G (proof of negative test, recovery or vaccination against Covid-19) regulations are being drafted by the Ministry of Health for the workplace, Der Standard newspaper reports. It would mean all employees who have contact with customers or colleagues, would have to show 3G proof and wear masks. The new 3G rule will apply from October 15 for all employees, owners and operators of businesses who might meet colleagues or customers at work. 

READ MORE: ‘3G Rule’: How to prove you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid in Austria

According to a draft of the law seen by the “ZiB 2”, programme,  employees must always have the proof with them at the workplace or they could be sent home by the employer without payment. 

Terminations of employment would also be possible, according to the report. A conference between Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) and the state health councils is planned for the evening.

The draft also provides for new rules for the ski areas from November 1st, namely a 3G obligation for access to cable cars and cog railways.

Increase in vaccination ‘breakthrough’ infections in Austria

Austria is experiencing an increase in “breakthrough” Covid-19 infections among vaccinated people, broadcaster ORF reports. Around 27 percent of infections between the end of August and the end of September were in vaccinated people, although few of these resulted in hospital admissions. The broadcaster points out various studies which show the protection of the Covid-19 vaccination decreases over time, particularly in older people. 

It quotes clinical pharmacologist Markus Zeitlinger, who advocates booster vaccinations, in line with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) advice that third vaccinations should be given to people aged over 18. ORF notes as yet there is no Austria-wide rule that vaccinated people should quarantine after close contact with someone with Covid-19. Most federal states decide on a case-by-base basis on quarantine rules, though vaccinated people in Vienna are said to be more likely to be asked to quarantine. The broadcaster reports on a recent study in The Lancet, which finds ‘superspreader events’ by quarantined people are very unlikely. 

Municipalities to be given more powers to set curfews for après-ski bars

Due to the large regional variations in Covid-19 infections across Austria, the country’s municipalities are to be given powers to set opening times and curfews for après-ski bars, broadcaster ORF reports. It says Salzburg’s community association president Günther Mitterer has concerns about the plans. He is quoted as saying that the municipalities are not responsible for trade and are not health authorities either. He has concerns that Austria’s communities are being given tasks they cannot carry out, and also worries about liability issues. 


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