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

Closed shops in central Vienna.
Closed shops in central Vienna. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Lockdown end date to be decided next week

When the nationwide lockdown was first announced, the Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg was very clear that it would last a “maximum” of 20 days, ending on December 12th for fully vaccinated people at least.

But we will only get official confirmation after a government decision next week, with the Ministry of Health saying that’s when the government will decide on the end date, based on developments in the Covid situation.

At the moment, there is a slow decline in newly reported cases — though this may be partly effected by lower testing rates while people are in lockdown. 

Austria’s Word of the Year is announced

And it’s Schattenkanzler (shadow chancellor), which narrow beat out 3G (the term used as shorthand for ‘geimpft, genesen, getestet‘ or ‘vaccinated, recovered, tested’)

The word of the year is chosen every month by a jury led by the University of Graz’s Society for Austrian German (GSÖD), and this year almost 12,000 votes were cast. Schattenkanzler was an expression used ironically to refer to new chancellor Alexander Schallenberg after he replaced Sebastian Kurz, but many suspected that by staying in his role as party chairman Kurz would continue to pull the strings.

Thousands demonstrate against vaccine mandate across Austria

As we reported yesterday, there was a large protest against the plans for making Covid-19 vaccines mandatory in Vienna on Wednesday. Hundreds of people also joined demonstrations in other parts of the country, including Eisenstadt in Burgenland, Linz and Steyr in Upper Austria, and central Salzburg.

Vouchers possible as alternative to office Christmas parties again this year

Employers in Austria are entitled to spend €365 per employee on company parties (including Christmas parties as well as any other celebrations through the year) and have the money deducted from tax. Last year, Austrian authorities changed the rules so that this money could be given directly to employees in the form of vouchers, and that rule will remain in place for the 2021 Christmas season.

Vienna has world’s best quality of life, but least friendly people: survey

The survey in question was the Expat City Ranking, carried out by expat networking group InterNations who quizzed over 12,000 people in 57 cities around the world. Overall, Vienna was ranked as the 14th best city for expats, earning a number 1 rating for Quality of Urban Living but the city scored dead last in the category of Local Friendliness. If you want to share your comments or tips on making friends in Austria (and not just the capital), please fill out our questionnaire.

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