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

Crowds walk past a clothing store at Vienna's famous shopping street, Mariahilferstrasse, in Vienna
Crowds walk past a clothing store at Vienna's famous shopping street, Mariahilferstrasse, in Vienna. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Austria to give €150 to people on low incomes

Around 750,000 people are expected to benefit from the decision in Austria’s parliament this week. A one-off €150 payment will be given to people who are unemployed as well as beneficiaries of several different benefits, intended as ‘inflation adjustment’ to compensate for the higher cost of living.

Vienna launches free restaurant voucher scheme for shoppers this weekend

Anyone who shops at a brick-and-mortar store in Vienna (not online) this weekend can submit their receipt to receive vouchers to use at restaurants in the capital. The city council said that “at least 50 percent of the invoice amount will then be reimbursed, up to a maximum of €100” and that the vouchers would be given in €25 amounts.

To be eligible, your purchase needs to take place on December 18th or 19th — the retail sector has been allowed to open on Sunday to make up for some of the turnover lost during the fourth lockdown in a rare exception to Austria’s strict Sunday closing laws. 

Only receipts from shops which were closed during the lockdown are eligible, so pharmacies, supermarkets and food shops are not included.

Vienna and Burgenland likely to be downgraded from ‘very high risk’ to ‘high risk’ for Covid

That’s if the weekly update from Austria’s Corona Commission under its traffic light system follows its current criteria. For several weeks, all nine regions have been marked as red or ‘very high risk’ due to a combination of factors including incidence rate and ICU capacity. This week, the figures in both Vienna and Burgenland are sufficient for these regions to turn ‘orange’, which still means ‘high risk’ for Covid-19 — unless there is any change to the system, for example due to the spread of the Omicron variant. The updates aren’t showing on the official website yet but should do later today.

Hundreds join illegal protest against Covid measures

Up to 650 people joined a protest in central Vienna on Wednesday afternoon against the Covid-19 measures, which had not been given the police permission required to take place. Police described the event as “loud, but peaceful”, though some reports were made due to non-compliance with mask regulations. Similarly, an unregistered rally against the measures gathered several hundred participants in Graz and was not broken up by police as it remained peaceful, though the organiser has been reported.

In Vienna, demonstrations this weekend are only permitted from 6pm onwards, due to a request from the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, Der Standard reports. This applies also to a planned silent memorial, which will now take place at 6.30pm with a minute’s silence at 7pm, instead of earlier in the afternoon.

Salzburg streets will retain Nazi names

A majority in Salzburg’s regional council voted against renaming any of 66 streets named after prominent Nazis and Nazi supporters.

A commission of historians set up by the city had recommended renaming 13 of these, and the Green Party and the KPÖ voted in favour of this, with the conservative ÖVP and far-right FPÖ voting against. The centre-left SPÖ voted to rename five streets.

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