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

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
Salzburg and Upper Austria go back into lockdown on Monday, and today we find out if the rest of the country will too. Photo: Christof Stache/AFP
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Salzburg and Upper Austria to go into full lockdown from Monday

Austria’s two highest-incidence regions will put their entire populations under a lockdown lasting at least three to four weeks, their governors confirmed on Thursday.

…and will the rest of Austria follow suit?

We don’t know yet if the lockdown will be rolled out nationwide, but we’re expecting an update later today, after talks between the government, regional leaders, and experts on Thursday which continue today.

It is possible that the entire country will go into lockdown, but there are other possibilities too — for example night-time curfews, 2G+ or other measures in the lower incidence regions.

The press conference is scheduled for 12.30pm and The Local will be covering it life, so check back at thelocal.at.

Hundreds of operations postponed in Upper Austria due to Covid

Doctors at the Salzkammergut Klinikum, a hospital with three locations in Upper Austria, have told broadcaster ORF that up to 200 operations are being postponed per week due to the strain placed on the healthcare sector by Covid.

“We have patients who have been postponed six times in the last year,” said one doctor.

Police prepare for demonstration against Covid measures

A demonstration is planned in Vienna against Austria’s strict Covid-19 regulations, and leader of the far-right party Herbert Kickl has been encouraging his supporters to join (he cannot attend as he is currently in quarantine after testing positive for Covid).

Sebastian Kurz loses parliamentary immunity

This paves the way for investigations into the ex-chancellor linked to a corruption scandal to continue.

Kurz himself had previously said he wanted the immunity lifted so that the probe could proceed, insisting he wanted to fight the “false” claims that cost him his job as chancellor.

Parliament approves 2022 budget

Amid the fast-moving Covid news, other changes are also underway. On Thursday, Austria’s parliament approved the 2022 budget, including a major tax reform that includes tax cuts for many earners and a new tax on carbon dioxide emissions.

Stricter Covid rules in place in Vienna from today

2G+ (proof of vaccination or recovery plus a negative test) will be required in the capital for ‘night gastronomy’ (bars, pubs and clubs, but also some late-night dining venues — the definition is based on when venues do most of their business) as well as events over 25 people. The tests should be PCR tests, but antigen tests can be used if it can be shown that a PCR test was not available, for example if the result from a PCR test was delayed.

This applies from the age of 15, and for children aged 12-15 the rule is 2.5G so a negative PCR test is accepted.

And the FFP2 mask mandate is expanded to cover all public indoor areas. This means staff in catering and hospitality need to wear masks again, and customers at restaurants need to wear masks when not seated. The mask mandate also applies at workplaces.

These rules may soon be made redundant depending on what is decided for the nationwide measures, but they apply from today.

Vienna to book appointments for all unvaccinated residents

Vienna has announced that it will write to everyone who has not yet been vaccinated, offering them a specific appointment slot and giving information about vaccine efficacy, addressing some of the common misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines. That’s around 340,000 people in the capital region.


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