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

A cow grazes in the Salzburg region.
The Salzburg region may introduce stricter pandemic measures today (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)
Find out what's going on in Austria on Friday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

State of Salzburg discussing stricter measures after being classified with highest risk in Austria 

The state of Salzburg has been classified as “red” or “very high risk” by Austria’s coronavirus traffic light commission. It is the only state in Austria to be given this status. Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Vienna and Burgenland are are yellow (medium risk), and all other states are orange (high risk). Within Salzburg, the districts with the highest numbers of infections are Hallein, followed by Braunau and Scheibbs.

Stricter pandemic measures for Salzburg are being discussed today by the state’s Covid board, broadcaster ORF reports. 

In the state of Vorarlberg, which has recently stopped compulsory mask wearing and testing in schools, all districts have a seven-day incidence of below 100.

READ MORE: Covid-19 First Austrian state relaxes test and mask rules in schools 

Vienna’s ICUs are the most under pressure in the country, whereas in Burgenland there are currently zero patients with Covid-19 in intensive care, broadcaster ORF reports. 

One worrying trend is that there has been a 20 percent increase in infections in people aged over 65 years of age. But around 22,000 booster or third vaccinations have been given in Vienna to people in retirement and nursing homes and to hospital staff since the beginning of September.

Around 10 percent of intensive care units in Austria are currently occupied by Covid-19 patients. Forecast calculations show there will be an increase in the utilization of intensive care units to a level of 11.8 percent by October 27th. The systemic risk is therefore still at “medium risk”.

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

Criticism of tax reform in budget

Austria’s opposition party NEOS has criticised the government’s recent tax reform, saying it will only give an average tax relief of 22 euros per month, broadcaster ORF reports. The governing coalition of the ÖVP and the Green had called it the largest tax reform in Austria’s history. NEOS Budget spokeswoman Karin Doppelbauer told Austria’s APA news agency that tax and contributions ratio still remain at a record high level. 

This is due to the fact that tax on wages in Austria is not adjusted for inflation, meaning people are effectively taxed more as inflation rises. This is known as kalte Progression (cold progression) in German. Tax will not be linked to inflation under the tax reform until next year, according to the opposition centre-left SPO party, broadcaster ORF reports.

“What will effectively remain in the taxpayers’ wallets in the coming year is only a small part of what has been eaten up in recent years by the cold progression”, Dopplebauer said. 

The Wiener Zeitung newspaper also reports that during Austria’s National Council discussion of the 2022 budget plans, the SPÖ’ opposition leader  Rendi-Wagner accused Kurz of “stealing” €1.2 billion from the government in 2016 by blocking funding for child support.

People living in Styria to be able to use ‘gargle tests’ from next month

People living in Styria will be able to use the free gargle PCR tests which have been available in Vienna for months from November. An “Everything gurgles” app will be created, where people can register for the tests before picking them up in the pharmacy, broadcaster ORF reports.

The test itself can then be done at home, though test subjects must film themselves “gurgling” and then upload the video to the app. Tests can be handed in at the pharmacy or in all Spar stores.

The test result should be available within 24 hours, and will appear in both the Green Pass and sent via SMS. There will also be 60 drop-off locations for use on Sundays outdoors. 

READ MORE: What are Vienna’s coronavirus gurgle tests?

Suspended sentences for Hitler birthday party celebration

A family in the Flachgau district of Salzburg were given suspended sentences ranging from twelve to 21 months after sharing photographs on WhatsApp of celebrations of Adolf Hitler’s birthday.

The photographs included pictures of Hitler wine on a table decorated with a swastika flag, and a custom car licence plate with a Hitler reference. One of those accused was previously politically active for Austria’s far right FPÖ party, broadcaster ORF reports. It notes wine with photographs of Mussolini and Hitler can still be bought in Italy, but in Austria and Germany, buying or owning this wine is a criminal offence. 

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