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

A couple eat a snack at the closed Christmas market next to Stephen's Cathedral, in Vienna
A couple eat a snack at the closed Christmas market next to Stephen's Cathedral, normally packed with crowds of people, in Vienna, Austria on November 22, 2021. Austria has entered a nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain spiraling coronavirus infections. JOE KLAMAR / AFP
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Experts don’t expect the current lockdown to end soon

Despite Austria reaching 70 percent of the population having had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and slightly falling case numbers, some experts doubt the lockdown will end soon.

According to ORF, some researchers expect restrictions could ease in some parts of the country in December, as long as pressure is eased on intensive care units in hospitals.

But Virologist Christoph Steininger does not think the current lockdown will end on December 12th as planned – even for vaccinated people. Instead he expects the number of people in ICU with Covid-19 to increase in the next two weeks.

Calls for shops to open in Vienna on December 19th

The Vienna Chamber of Commerce is calling for shops to be allowed to open on the fourth Sunday of Advent – December 19th – to help struggling retailers.

According to a survey conducted by SME Research on behalf of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, people in Vienna intend to spend around €320 on Christmas gifts this year.

A spokesperson for the Chamber said retailers in Vienna have persevered through tough restrictions over the past 20 months, but “the entrepreneur’s ability to suffer is limited”.

Property prices in Austria have doubled since 2010

The Österreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) is warning of overheating in the Austrian housing market after it was revealed property prices across the country have doubled since the beginning of 2010.

For example, in 2021 alone, the average price per square meter for an apartment in Vienna rose by 12 per cent to €5,800.

OeNB is concerned about the high number of loans being granted with a variable rate or limited equity in Austria, especially with the prospect of higher interest rates in the future. However, the bank is not expecting the bubble to burst soon.

Across the Euro zone, the average property price increase in the past decade is just one third.

Advance sales of ski season tickets going well

Austria might be in lockdown again but many people are still planning for an active winter season with advance sales of ski season tickets above expectations.

At Kitzsteinhorn in Salzburgerland, pre-season ticket sales are almost at pre-pandemic levels and ski operators are now hoping for a heavy dumping of snow in the next week.

However, hotels in Styria’s ski resort towns are already reporting cancellations from German tourists, fuelling fears of another lost season.

Matthias Schattleitner from Schladming-Dachstein Tourism told ORF that another winter without tourists is financially “inconceivable” for the Styrian tourism industry.


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