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

Visitors to the Albertina Museum in Vienna.
Visitors to Vienna now have the chance to see an exhibition of paintings by the artist Modigliani at Vienna's Albertina modern art museum. The show was originally planned for the 100th anniversary of Modigliani's death in 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Find out what's going on in Austria on Tuesday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

3G in the workplace probably on hold for Austria

Editor’s note: Later on Tuesday, the SPÖ said that they would not vote against the law in exchange for free Covid-19 tests being extended. This means the 3G rule for the workplace is now likely to go ahead. Find the latest on this story here.

Austria’s implementation of the 3G rule for the workplace is looking less likely to go ahead in the near future. The ‘3G’ rule would have meant employees would have had to demonstrate they were vaccinated, recovered or had tested negative for Covid-19 to work.

Austria’s ZiB2 news programme reported on Monday that the rule would be delayed because there is no legal basis for a 3G rule in the workplace. In theory, the Federal Council could approve a new law on Thursday (October 21st), however, the governing parties do not have a majority in this council, and the opposition have previously voted unanimously in the National Council against the new law. If opposition parties vote against the law in the Federal Council, it will be blocked for the next eight weeks. 


Suspects ‘swapped’ cell phones before raids by corruption prosecutors office

Cell phones belonging to members of the Austrian government’s Chancellory are said to have been swapped before raids by the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) took place, Austria’s Der Standard newspaper reports.

The paper says neither the WKStA nor the Federal Chancellery have officially confirmed this. However, a statement has been released that the “WKStA has secured both current devices and devices that were used in the past.”

Concerns over choice of chairman for inquiry into corruption

Austria’s opposition parties have expressed concerns about the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry (U-Committee), which is preparing to investigate the allegations of corruption within Austria’s governing centre-right ÖVP party.

The centre-left SPÖ, far-right FPÖ and liberal Neos parties all reject the President of the National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP), chairing the upcoming inquiry, the Wiener Zeitung reports. Der Standard newspaper reports that Green National Council member Nina Tomaselli is also critical of Sobotka becoming chair. Concerns of bias amongst the opposition stem from the investigations into the previous ‘Ibiza’ scandal, in which Sobotka was found to have had a close relationship with one of the main targets of the investigation. 


Investigation into Kurz put on hold for ‘at least a month’

Austria’s Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) office will have to put investigations into former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz on hold for at least a month, the Der Standard newspaper reports.

The reason is his move to the National Council, which gives him parliamentary immunity from prosecution. The governing centre-right ÖVP and Kurz themselves have said the immunity must be lifted, and said it would show Kurz was innocent of the charges. However, although the request to extradite Kurz was made on October 14th, it will take until the next plenary session of the National Council (November 16th to 19th) for this to be put into effect.

Rare bird spotted in Austria for the first time for 160 years

An extremely rare Arctic bird has been spotted near Seewinkel, near Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland. Birdwatchers from all over Austria have flocked to the area to see the sandpiper, which has not been spotted in Austria for 160 years, broadcaster ORF reports. The last sandpiper in Seewinkel was probably shot near Apetlon around 1850, the broadcaster reports. A stuffed sandpiper can be seen in Vienna’s Natural History Museum.

Controversial ad campaign found to be discriminatory by watchdog

A controversial advertisement campaign by the supermarket chain Billa has been found to be discriminatory by Austria’s advertising watchdog, and must be stopped immediately,  broadcaster ORF reports.  The campaign has also been criticised by disability organisations and Austria’s health minister.

The advertising campaign by the REWE Group, which owns the supermarket, involved yellow posters with the text  “With a disability you are NOT needed”. REWE said this was a “teaser campaign”, intended to deliberately address prejudices against people with disabilities. The second part of the campaign would have featured real life Billa employees on posters refuting these prejudices. 

However, disability representatives demanded that the posters be removed, and the  criticism was also supported by Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens). He said on Twitter that the posters were  “discriminatory and hurtful” advertising.

Germans travelling to Austria to fill up on petrol in ‘tank tourism’

Tank tourism is on the rise in Austria, with many Germans choosing to cross the border into Austria to fill up their cars, as taxes are lower. Florian Hördegen from Southern Bavarian General German Automobile Club (ADAC) said more German drivers are taking detours or trips to save money since last week.

Broadcaster ORF reports there are often queues at petrol stations once you cross the German border. Depending on the petrol station, region and time of day, the savings can be around 20 cents per litre for diesel and around 25 cents for premium petrol, the broadcaster reports.

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