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

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

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

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

Covid-19 numbers on the rise, wages shrinking as cost of living increases, Finance Ministry official online communication and more news from Austria on Friday.

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

Austria’s Covid commission alerts to 70,000 daily infections soon

Austria’s commission to assess the pandemic situation, known as GECKO (Gesamtstaatliche COVID-Krisenkoordination), has alerted to rising Covid-19 numbers, Der Standard reports.

The commission believes the daily number of coronavirus infections could reach 70,000 already this summer. This is mainly because people have been travelling more than in previous years while wearing masks less often.

READ ALSO: Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Wages are shrinking and consumption is rising

Austria’s economy will grow somewhat more strongly this year than expected in March, ORF reported.

However, according to the June forecast of the economic research institutes WIFO and IHS, the outlook for the year’s second half is much gloomier.

Since inflation is higher than expected in March, gross real wages will fall by a historic 3.9 percent. However, if inflation falls, the real wages should increase significantly, about 5.3 percent, in 2023.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

Finance Ministry to contact FinanzOnline users

If Austria’s Finance Ministry contacts you, don’t worry: they will be checking everyone’s data on the FinanzOnline platform.

The goal is to have up-to-date account data so that all the announced bonuses and payments to counter the rising cost of living to be made quickly and with no issues.

The contact will happen via the FinanzOnline website and e-mail to users who allow email contact.

Of course, whenever the government or authorities announce they will reach out to people, there are always criminals looking to take advantage of it. Therefore, ensure that the message you received is from FinanzOnline and check the official website directly instead of clicking on links.

READ ALSO: When will you get your cost of living ‘bonus’ payments in Austria?

School holidays start in the east

Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland students have started their nine-week summer vacations. In the remaining Austrian states, school holidays will only begin next week.

Classes will resume on September 5th for the east and September 12th in the Western states. Austria’s ÖAMTC traffic authority expects heavy traffic jams at the beginning of the month, especially as the summer holidays have also started in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and two German federal states.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in July 2022

A break in the heatwave

The west of Austria will have a small break from the heatwave this Friday, Austria’s meteorologic central ZAMG says. A cold front arrives from the west, and maximum temperatures will be between 18C to 21C in the region, with thunderstorms.

In Vienna and Burgenland, though, maximum temperatures continue high, reaching 35C during the day.

READ ALSO: Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms