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

Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Vienna opera ball
A previous edition of the Vienna Opera Ball, which has again been cancelled due to the pandemic. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

The road out of lockdown

On Wednesday afternoon, the government announced which measures will apply nationwide after the final day of the general lockdown on Saturday. The full lockdown will continue for people without proof of 2G, but otherwise most parts of society can re-open with some restrictions, such as mask mandates in indoor spaces, limits of 1,000 people for events, and an 11pm closing time for bars and restaurants.

That doesn’t mean all those things will happen simultaneously across the country however, with each region allowed to impose stricter measures if it wishes. Upper Austria will remain in full lockdown until December 17th. 

Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Burgenland said they would comply with the nationwide rules and would not put in place additional measures.

Salzburg, Lower Austria and Styria are holding off on opening bars and restaurants until December 17th, while in Vienna these businesses won’t re-open until the 20th, and Carinthia is set to announce its own plans today.

Record amounts of snow forecast for eastern Austria

With several centimetres in Vienna and up to 30 centimetres in Burgenland, the east of Austria has a fresh coating of snow today. Nationwide, the levels are at a ten-year high, with Austria’s Centre for Severe Weather issuing its highest alerts for Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Carinthia.

In Carinthia, several hundred homes in the districts of St. Veit an der Glan, Spittal an der Drau and Villach-Land are affected by power outages after nearly 40 centimetres of snow fell.

Nehammer presents his new government

After being sworn in three days ago, on Thursday new Chancellor Karl Nehammer presents his government in a special sitting of Austria’s National Council (the lower house of parliament), just two months after the last new government.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) will set out their plans for their time of office, while the three new ministers and one state secretary will make their parliamentary debuts in their new roles.

Vienna’s Opera Ball cancelled due to Covid

Austria has cancelled its famous Vienna Opera Ball for the second year running over the coronavirus pandemic, the government said on Wednesday.

Keeping the February 24th, 2022 date would have sent “the wrong signal” as the country is only to start emerging from a partial lockdown this Sunday, state secretary for culture Andrea Mayer said.

The quirky way Vienna cinemas are staving off lockdown boredom

“As a cinema, we don’t have a lot of opportunities to entertain our audiences in lockdown. The only way to address them is by using the boards on which the film titles and starting times are displayed during normal operation,” Wolfgang Pielmeier from the Stadtkino told the ORF broadcaster.

Instead of adding to the gloom by simply writing something like ‘Closed until further notice’, several cinemas in the capital have opted for humour, with the Gartenbaukino extending the chess invitation: “Hey Stadtkino, how about a nice game of chess? E2 – E4” to which the other cinema has responded. You can follow the chess game and other inventive uses of the title boards under the hashtag #kinoliebe online.

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

No more '3G' to enter Austria, swimming lakes warm up, compulsory vaccination debate returns and more news on Monday.

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

No more testing or proof of vaccination to come into Austria

From today (Monday 16 May), all testing/vaccination requirements to enter Austria will be removed. It is possible to come to Austria from all countries in the world without showing a negative test or proof of vaccination.

A new entry regulation was published last week  by the Ministry of Health. The cancellation of entry checks was justified by the current epidemiological situation.

There is still the possibility for countries to be classed as virus variant areas, however at present no country is currently on the list of these areas. Should a new virus variant emerge, the obligation to test, register and quarantine could be quickly imposed again, broadcaster ORF reports.

Austria’s lakes warm up for swimming

Warm temperatures of over 30 degrees in May mean that Austria’s swimming lakes are ready for use, with temperatures exceeding the 20-degree mark in the Alte Donau in Vienna, the Aubad Tulln and the Stubenbergsee in Styria. Some Carinthian lakes are already at 19 degrees, such as Lake Faak and Lake Pressegger, broadcaster ORF reports. 

READ MORE: The best lakes and swimming spots in Austria

Nehammer unanimously elected leader of the ÖVP

As The Local reported at the weekend, Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer has been formally elected leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) with 100 percent of the vote. 

The heads of the ÖVP traditionally tend to get high results in their first election as chairman. Kurz was elected party leader in 2017 with 98.7 percent of the vote. However, there has never been a 100 percent result in a first-time election until now.

READ MORE: Austria’s Nehammer formally elected party leader in unanimous vote

Compulsory vaccination law could come into force automatically in June

An ordinance suspending Austria’s compulsory vaccination law will expire at the end of May, making it possible in theory that random penalties for remaining unvaccinated could be put in place at the start of June. 

The law  was introduced in February, even though the technical requirements for it to be enacted were not in place. Before a single person was fined, the Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) suspended the law with an ordinance.

To create a new ordinance or extend the existing one stopping people from being fined, Rauch must await  the report of the vaccination commission.

This will assess from a medical and legal point of view whether the Vaccination Act is suitable and useful. In a previous report of the commission, it said there were arguments for and against mandatory vaccination for those who were completely unvaccinated.

Der Standard reports there is little political support for compulsory vaccination and says there are still technical problems regarding automated fines. According to the Ministry of Health, the infrastructure should be completed in June.


Car reduction scheme stalls 
A plan to significantly reduce traffic in Vienna’s city centre will probably not be implemented as planned in 2022. Vienna wanted to set up surveillance cameras limiting access to the city’s First District by car to residents.

At present, around 50,000 cars are registered driving in and out of the historic centre every working day. 

Der Standard newspaper reports that it has information that the new regulation will not come into force this year as planned. The necessary legislation has not been passed and there are concerns about data protection.