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

Vienna Christmas market
Austria starts re-opening for vaccinated residents and visitors this week, plus the rest of the news you need this morning. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

National lockdown ends for people with proof of Covid vaccination or recovery

From today, the national lockdown is lifted, but a lockdown is still in place for people without proof of 2G (proof of vaccination or recovery) which means people in this group cannot access services like non-essential retail, restaurants, or Christmas markets and should not leave their homes except for essential reasons such as exercise, food shopping, or going to work if it cannot be done remotely. 

But re-opening looks different across the country, with a return to regionally decided measures. Upper Austria is  keeping a lockdown in place regionally. In four regions (Carinthia, Lower Austria, Styria and Salzburg), restaurants, cafes and hotels will only open from December 17th and in Vienna they will wait until the 20th.

Thousands protested against Austria’s Covid measures over the weekend

Around 40,000 people gathered to protest in Vienna, followed by 17,000 in Graz, 6,000 in Innsbruck and 4,500 in Salzburg on Sunday, with dozens more demonstrations planned for the coming days. A particular focus of the protests is the planned Covid-19 vaccine mandate, as well as the continued lockdown for unvaccinated people.

At some of the protests, objects were thrown at journalists and police officers, and there were seven police reports of criminal offences at the Vienna protest.

Austria gets a cross-party parliamentary group for LGBTIQ rights

The group was set up after lawmakers from the centre-left SPÖ and Green Party invited their peers from other parties to join them, based on the European Parliament model which has several cross-party issue-based groups. LGBTIQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer. The Neos opposition party and governing conservative ÖVP have signalled their support of the initiative.

The organisers described the group as a “non-partisan platform for the concerns of the queer community right in the heart of our democracy, in parliament”.

Problems with Austria’s Covid reporting system

Issues with the EMS (epidemiological reporting system) meant that Vienna and Styria were not accounted for in Sunday’s Covid figures, which were also delayed until the evening.

Austrian court to judge whether the fourth lockdown was unconstitutional

This is after a person who had received three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine brought a case to Austria’s Constitutional Court. They argued that the lockdown is only justified when it is necessary to protect public health, and that as someone who received a booster dose, they posed a low risk of spreading the virus. The court will assess whether the lockdown was a proportional measure, but we will likely only hear the decision in spring, according to Die Presse which was first to report on the case.

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