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

Busy street central Vienna
What's going on in Austria today? We summarise the need-to-know news stories. Photo: Anton/Unsplash
Find out what's going on in Austria on Wednesday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

More Austrian states turn ‘red’ under Covid traffic light risk ranking

Thursday is the day Austria’s Corona Commission updates its five-level traffic light risk ranking, and as of today all of Austria except two states (Burgenland and Vienna) is set to be ranked as ‘red’ or ‘very high risk’, the most serious level on the five-step scale. That’s four more states in the red category than last week.

The traffic light ranking is based on incidence rate and on its own does not trigger new measures, but is intended as a warning signal for individuals to adjust their behaviour and for regions to consider new measures. Salzburg has the highest risk level, with a seven-day incidence rate of 433.

When the Corona Commission updates its risk levels later today, Vorarlberg is expected to see its risk level for schools change too, which will mean the re-introduction of regular mandated testing after this was removed at the start of term.

Austrian government plans new crisis law

Austria hopes to learn lessons from the Covid-19 crisis and an overhaul of national crisis law is underway.

Some of the key changes, according to a draft of the law seen by Der Standard, include the introduction of a crisis advisor in the government; improving coordination between national and state authorities by setting up permanent reporting systems (to keep them in contact even during peacetime); and allowing the army to stockpile food and medical supplies and carry out exercises to prepare for non-military events.

After negotiations between the two coalition parties, the conservative ÖVP and Greens, the government is in talks with the opposition to prepare the law, since at least one other party’s support will be required for it to pass (that’s because any constitutional amendment requires at least two-thirds of parliament to support it). It is likely to be put to a vote in February.

Anti-vaccine party to stand in national elections

Austria’s anti-vaccine people, Austria People – Freedom – Fundamental Rights (MFG) had its first significant media event on Wednesday after entering Upper Austrian local government with 6 percent of the votes in a regional election. 

Gerhard Pöttler, one of MFG’s senior figures, said the party would stand in the next general election, but did not confirm whether they would also nominate a candidate for the presidency, the next election for which takes place in autumn 2022. The party opposes Covid vaccinations and restrictions, and its leader said on Wednesday that they were considering taking the government to court over the 3G rule for workplaces, set to come into force next week.

Apartment prices keep rising in Vienna

The price for apartments in the Austrian capital is expected to rise by at least five percent overall in 2021, according to one analysis by property company EHL, which reported a “marked rise in prices” for owned apartments, though rental prices were relatively stable.

One of the main reasons is that demand outstrips supply, with the company noting that despite significant building work on new apartment blocks underway, there was still a shortage of plots.

Styria becomes latest state to tighten Covid restrictions

Styria announced that it would introduce a 2G rule (proof of either vaccination or recovery required for entry) for evening dining and bars, while extending the FFP2 mask mandate to cover more locations, making it the latest state after Vienna, Salzburg and Upper Austria to introduce stricter Covid regulations.

The rules come into effect from November 8th.

Austria records highest number of daily Covid cases since 2020

The tighter restrictions in Styria come amid a nationwide rise in newly reported Covid cases and hospitalisations. Austria on Wednesday recorded more new Covid-19 cases than in any other 24-hour period so far in 2021, with 4,261 new infections recorded from the previous 24 hours.

The seven-day incidence rate (new cases reported per 100,000 residents) reached 281 nationwide, up from 248 one week ago. The last time the incidence rate was above 280 was in early December 2020.

Meanwhile, the number of people being treated for the virus in hospital has also risen, reaching 1,257 which is more than a 30 percent week-on-week rise.


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