FOR MEMBERS

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

Geese
Today is St Martin's Day in Austria, a celebration usually marked by eating goose. Photo: Gokul Barman/Pexels
Find out what's going on in Austria today, with The Local's short roundup of the news you need to know.

Happy Saint Martin’s Day!

In much of Austria, St Martin’s Day is celebrated today. Schools and government offices are closed, but most of the rest of us are at work.

The main festivities revolve around the evening meal, traditionally Martinigansl, goose often served with cabbage and dumplings. In parts of Austria children celebrate Martinstag by carrying paper lanterns they have made in school, in an evening procession.

St Martin’s Day has religious roots, as St Martin was a soldier who, according to legend, shared his coat with a beggar during a snowstorm and the beggar turned out to be Jesus Christ. He was then appointed as a bishop but hid in a goose barn, where the honking geese gave him away.

No regional lockdowns — yet

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein held crisis talks with the leaders of Upper Austria and Salzburg yesterday, where the Covid-19 incidence rate has soared to 1,174 and 933 respectively. Some hospitals in these regions are so over-burdened with Covid patients that other non-urgent care is being postponed.

Salzburg’s governor said on Wednesday that Mückstein had proposed introducing lockdowns for unvaccinated people in the two regions, however this will not be brought in, with more talks to follow on Friday. The two regions have the lowest rate of vaccination Austria-wide at 59.8 and 61 percent respectively.

People vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson to be advised a second dose

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was initially rolled out as a one-dose jab, but people living in Austria who received the vaccine will start receiving letters reminding them to get a second dose to increase their level of protection from serious illness. You can get the second dose from 28 days after receiving the first.

These letters will be sent out by the end of the week to everyone who is registered in the Austrian healthcare system as having received only one dose of Johnson & Johnson.

The Health Ministry also plans to contact people vaccinated with other vaccines by mail, to remind them about the recommendation to get the booster dose. A third vaccine dose is now recommended for everyone in Austria who received the first jab, from six months after the second dose of an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer).

Vienna tightens rules for teenagers

In most of Austria, children aged between 12 and 15 can enter 2G venues using the Ninja Pass based on testing carried out in schools.

Vienna announced on Wednesday that it would be introducing stricter rules, requiring 2.5G (vaccination, recovery or a negative PCR test only) for this age group.

Children aged over 12 are eligible for the vaccine in Austria, and in Vienna over-5s are able to get it. This is based on positive results from the vaccine rollout for children in the USA, even though the EMA has not yet given its approval for under-12s.

Man finds gold bar in secondhand sofa

What’s the best secondhand bargain you’ve ever snagged? It probably pales in comparison to this: a man in Lower Austria found a gold bar worth an estimated €48,000 when he was cleaning a sofa he bought secondhand.

It’s not yet clear whether he’ll be able to keep the find however. He took the bar to the police, who are establishing who legally owns the gold since the man bought the sofa at an estate sale following a woman’s death. Local newspaper NÖN Neunkirchen was first to report the story.


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.