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

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

What's going on in Austria today? Photo: Natalia Y/Unsplash

Austria extends lockdown for unvaccinated people

This move was expected — the government has said the measure is likely to remain in place throughout January — but it needed to be done because lockdown is such a severe measure that it can only officially be imposed for ten days at a time.

This means that people without proof of 2G (valid vaccine pass or proof of recovery) are under lockdown rules for another ten days, although the government has already said that during December 24th, 25th, 26th and 31st the rules will be relaxed so that up to ten people may meet privately without needing proof of 2G.

No vaccine appointments until January in eastern Tyrol

The government is urging the population to get vaccinated by the end of the year if they are eligible, whether for a first, second or third dose, but the availability of appointments varies across the country.

In eastern Tyrol no appointments are available until January 7th, ORF reports, with Lienz saying that volunteer workers need time off to recover and that demand is not high enough to justify adding appointments.

How the fourth lockdown hit Austria’s economy

Austria’s three weeks of winter lockdown led to a -5.25 percentage point drop in GDP according to the country’s Economic Research Institute (WIFO). That’s comparing to pre-crisis levels in 2019, but is actually a rise if you compare to winter 2020.

Tourism was one of the hardest hit industries, particularly in eastern Austria which usually sees an increase in visits starting from November, and 19 percent fewer passengers travelled through Vienna Airport.

The OECD praises Austria’s Covid recovery, but highlights areas for improvement

The OECD on Monday presented its latest Economic Survey of Austria. On the whole, it noted that Austria’s economic recovery was on par with the OECD average, but that the crisis had revealed weaknesses in the country’s social welfare systems. It noted that despite a highly sophisticated healthcare system with some of the highest numbers of hospital beds and intensive care spaces worldwide, the number of Covid-19 deaths was high, which the authors attributed to a slow reaction from the government.

The report also forecast a drop to 4.5 percent unemployment by 2023, and suggested extra support for women in the workplace, for example by expanding childcare offerings.

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

Inquiry commission on Wien Energie begins, verdict on Leonie-case expected for today, province leaders meeting and more news from Austria on Friday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
  • Austria starts inquiry committee over Wien Energie

Starting on Friday at 10 am at the Vienna City Hall, the City Council’s investigative commission on the Wien Energie case will meet every two weeks.

On the initiative of the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), it will investigate the events surrounding the dramatic financial needs of Wien Energie that became known in the summer. The commission can summon people to testify and request documents. 

They will focus on two issues. 

The first concerns the extent to which Mayor Michael Ludwig and City Finance Councillor Peter Hanke have exercised their ownership rights regarding Wien Energie, which is wholly owned by the city via Wiener Stadtwerke. Specifically, the commission wants to know whether the two SPÖ politicians reacted in time and appropriately to the price increases in the electricity markets in the summer. 

The second matter revolves around Ludwig’s emergency powers as head of the city, with which he granted Wien Energie loans totalling €1.4 billion. It is to be clarified whether this procedure was legally compliant and whether Ludwig should have informed committees such as the City Senate earlier.

READ ALSO: Why did Wien Energie ask for €6 billion from the Austrian government?

  • Austrian citizenship: Can you be rejected because of a driving offence?

Naturalisation processes may be on the rise in Austria, but citizenship is still hard to get, and any mistake could mean you miss out on the opportunity. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Verdict on the case of the death of 13-year old that shocked Austria expected on Friday

The court case about the killed 13-year-old, Leonie W., is coming to an end, with a verdict expected on Friday. 

Zubaidullah R. (24), Ibraulhaq A. (19) and Ali H. (20) allegedly mixed ecstasy tablets into a drink for Leonie W. and then raped her in June 2021, according to prosecutors. The girl did not survive. She died of a fatal triple overdose and by suffocation inside the apartment of one of the defendants in Vienna-Donaustadt.

The men all admitted to having had sexual intercourse with a minor. However, they claim it had been consensual.

The verdicts are expected on Friday. In case of a guilty verdict, Zubaidullah R. could face ten, 20 years or life as he was older than 21 at the time of the alleged crime. Ibraulhaq A. and Ali H. each face up to 20 years.

READ ALSO: Fall-Leonie: charges filed in case of death of a 13-year-old girl in Vienna

  • Province leaders to meet in Vienna

Vienna’s mayor – and provincial governor – Michael Ludwig (SPÖ), is hosting a conference with the provincial governors on Friday. 

At the meeting in Vienna’s City Hall, the heads of the provinces will discuss, among other things, fiscal matters, broadcaster ORF reported. They had already announced in advance that they wanted a bigger slice of the revenue shares in future. But the energy crisis is also a “central focus”.

“Rising energy prices and their consequences for the economy and society are among the greatest current challenges”, the provincial governors said in a joint statement on Thursday. 

The conference will, therefore, also discuss a motion calling on the federal government to present “as soon as possible” an energy protection umbrella for business and labour as well as all households to cushion the high energy costs for Austria’s companies.

READ ALSO: Vienna Energy Bonus: How to get a €200 payout

  • Weather

Screenshot from ZAMG

Dense clouds will cover the sky; in the south, there may be some sleet and snow at low altitudes, Austria’s meteorologic institute ZAMG said. 

The snow line will be between 500 and 900m above sea level in the west. In the afternoon, the snowfall will decrease in the south. In the northern half, it may continue to snow a little.

Towards evening the snowfall will stop almost everywhere. The wind will be mostly light in the east, partly moderate from northeast to southeast. Daytime highs are between 0C and 5C.

If you have any questions about life in Austria, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected].