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

What's going on in Austria today? Photo: Patrick Robert Doyle/Unsplash
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Supermarkets and shops to close at 7pm

Starting from Thursday, Austria will enter the second half of its nationwide lockdown.

Most of the rules will stay the same, but one change is that shops will have to close at 7pm, whereas currently they can stay open until 9pm. This was a request from a retail workers’ union, as The Local previously reported. It applies to the shops that are currently allowed to stay open, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and other shops for basic supplies.

First details of draft mandatory Covid vaccine law

Austrian daily Die Presse has had access to a draft of the law on mandatory vaccines, which is expected to be officially presented in early December.

The draft reportedly sets out fines of up to €7,200 for people who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine without a valid medical exemption. That would come if someone was issued a €3,600 fine twice.

The law would apply to everyone resident in Austria (not just citizens), but there would be a few exemption categories, including pregnant women. According to the draft seen by Die Presse, the mandate would apply from the age of 12.

But nothing is fixed yet, and the Health Ministry said on Monday that several different versions are currently in the works. The government is holding talks on the plans this morning, with a press conference scheduled for 11am.

Energy prices on the rise

Energy prices for domestic households were almost 23 percent higher in October than a year earlier.

Heating oil was 60.8 percent more expensive, diesel 34.8 percent more, gas 15.6 percent more and electricity 9.6 percent more, according to the energy price index (EPI) from the Austrian Energy Agency. Some providers have already announced planned increases to their tariffs, with others expected to follow suit from early next year.

Austrian opposition calls for lockdown to end a week early

The NEOS (The New Austria and Liberal Forum) has said that retail should reopen to people with proof of 2G from December 6th, with the party’s economic spokesperson calling the lockdown “a bit much” in comments to media on Monday.

Take this with a pinch of salt — the party is the smallest in Austria’s parliament.

The NEOS have also backed calls from the Chamber of Commerce for retail to be granted an exception to Austria’s strict Sunday closing laws on the two Sundays during the advent period.

Austrian appointed as WHO’s European crisis manager

Austrian Gerald Rockenschaub has been appointed Director of Health Emergencies in the European Region of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“I am very pleased that an Austrian doctor and public health expert has been appointed to this senior position in the WHO,” said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein.

Salzburg Schokolade goes bankrupt

The company said that the impact of the pandemic and rising prices of raw materials were to blame. The news affects around 140 employees.

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