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

Fireworks Vienna
Fireworks displays will be less common in Austria this New Year, plus the rest of the day's news. Photo: Dimitry Anikin/Unsplash
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Another Covid summit takes place today

This means we are likely to get an update on any planned changes to Austria’s restrictions, particularly in light of the spread of the Omicron variant, later on today. The summits are attended by regional and national leaders as well as scientific experts.

Austrian media were reporting on Tuesday that there was speculation four European countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK) could be added to Austria’s virus variant list which means travel is in principle banned and Austrian or EU residents need to quarantine on arrival. This hasn’t been confirmed by the Health Ministry but the Ministry has said the issue is on the summit’s agenda — we will update you when we know more.

Cancellations hit Austria’s winter tourism industry after entry rules tightened

The Austrian Hotel Association (ÖHV) reports there has been a wave of cancellations after Austria on Monday began requiring travellers to show a negative PCR test in addition to 2G proof unless they had received a vaccine booster.

In a statement, the association’s General Secretary said the rule change was “not crisis communication, but a communications crisis”, being published on Friday evening to come into effect on Monday morning, with no answers to many of the questions that hotel guests (and The Local readers) have had about the 2G+ requirement.

While Austria has a fairly robust testing system (although this varies across the country), the requirement for a test on arrival means an extra cost and potentially difficulties getting a result in time.

Energy prices continue to rise

The Austrian Gas Price Index (ÖGPI) was more than five times (515.1 percent) higher in December 2021 compared to the same month last year, due to geopolitical issues that have pushed prices up globally.

So is this a worry as a consumer? By now, energy providers should have informed their customers about any planned increases for 2022, but the rises do mean that many Austrian households can expect to pay more next year. To check alternatives to your current tariff, the site E-Control (in German only) offers a free comparison service.

Several Austrian supermarkets ban sale of fireworks

Salzburg announced in November that no private fireworks displays would be allowed this year, due to the climate impact and noise pollution. The supermarkets Spar, Interspar and discounters Lidl and Penny Markt have now said they will not sell fireworks.

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