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Today in Austria: A round-up of the latest news on Wednesday

Today in Austria: A round-up of the latest news on Wednesday
Vienna grapples with the future of a monument and square dedicated to Karl Lueger, a former mayor of Vienna notorious for his anti-Semitic views, pictured here covered in graffiti stating 'Schande' (shame). Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP
Find out what's going on today in Austria today, with The Local's five-minute roundup of the news you need to know.

Vienna migration agency MA35 criticised over case handling times

In the summer, Austrian media revealed that migration authority MA35 in Vienna had not been accepting phone calls since the start of the pandemic.

Reforms were announced in response, including hiring new staff, but waiting times are still long. When asked in a radio interview on the Ö1 station how long the improvements would take to show an impact in speeding up procedures, the answer from the city council was: “We have started a process, but this work will take time and will never be fully completed.” But councillor Christoph Wiederkehr said a new call centre has been set up that will be in full operation from December, and that his goal was for every application to be handled digitally from next year (though they would still need to be made in person due to Austrian law).

Are you affected by long waiting times or other issues linked to migration policy? You can contact our editorial team by emailing [email protected] and we will do our best to look into it.

Austrian healthcare staff to protest government ‘inaction’ on pandemic

At five past midday, medical staff across the country will protest against the government’s handling of the pandemic by taking a photo of themselves with ’12:05′ placards, a reference to the ‘doomsday clock’ concept used by scientists to warn of how close the world is to catastrophe.

In Vienna alone, more than 300 healthcare workers are currently unable to work due to Covid-related quarantine.

“The clock for health workers is already striking 12:05. Physical and mental limits have been exceeded by far, as recent surveys show,” the campaign organisation Offensive Gesundheit said in a statement, which said the method of protest was chosen as the one that has the least impact on their work.

Police find machine guns, rifles and pipe bombs in alleged Nazi sympathiser’s house

A police raid uncovered a large number of weapons in the house of a man suspected of links to Nazi groups, Lower Austrian police said on Tuesday. The haul included a hand grenade, seven pipe bombs, dozens of firearms including two machine guns, and a range of other weapons as well as Nazi memorabilia including a helmet with a swastika, medals, books, and other items described as “Nazi devotional materials”.

“A large number of the firearms were loaded when they were seized,” the police statement said. “More than 1,200 kg of different types of ammunition was found and seized in the house.”

The man and his wife, both aged 53, were handed a provisional firearms ban and were reported to the public prosecutor’s office.

Vienna grapples with a monument and square honouring a Nazi sympathiser

Vienna city councillor for culture Veronica Kaup-Hasler on Tuesday announced a tender for a redesign of a monument to Karl Lueger, an anti-Semite who was idolised by Adolf Hitler.

“I want to push Lueger off the pedestal – but metaphorically,” said Kaup-Hasler. She said she saw calls for the complete removal of the monument as an “erasure” and instead called for it to be “contextualised”.

Vienna visitors and residents may have seen the statue in Karl Lueger-Platz (where one of the city’s Covid testing spots is currently located), where it is covered in graffiti stating ‘Schande’ (shame). This graffiti is set to stay for the time being. Last year, protestors held a ‘vigil of shame’, pictured in the top image, to prevent city authorities removing the graffiti.

Jobseekers will lose benefits if they refuse 3G

Labour Minister Martin Kocher has given the Austrian Employment Service (AMS) specific guidelines relating to the 3G requirement for workplaces, which was introduced on November 1st.

People who refuse to look for a new job due to the 3G rule will not be entitled to receive benefits, and for anyone who loses their job due to refusing to comply with 3G, unemployment benefits will be put on hold for four weeks.

More than 400 Covid patients are in Austria’s ICUs

Austria reached a sad milestone on Tuesday as the number of people in need of intensive care for Covid-19 reached more than 400. In total, there are 2,152 people in the country’s hospitals with the disease.

It’s the result of the increasing spread of the virus in Austria, with around 80,000 people currently positive for Covid-19. The seven-day incidence rate has reached 659, up from 404 one week earlier, which shows how quickly the situation is changing.


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