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

The Austrian city of Innsbruck
British arrivals have been turned away in Innsbruck as part of the country's tight new Covid measures. Photo by A Rosara on Unsplash
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

No further tightening of Covid-19 rules – yet

Following two long meetings of the Committee of the National Covid Crisis Coordination (GECKO) on Monday, further restrictions have been ruled out for now.

In the morning, laboratory operators, the army and representatives from the federal states attended a “test summit” to discuss how tests can be carried out more effectively nationwide and how testing infrastructure can be expanded.

In the evening, GECKO attendees discussed whether the current restrictions are enough to cope with the increasing number of Omicron cases. There is currently no new information for the public.

British tourists turned away at Innsbruck Airport

At Innsbruck Airport on Sunday, 110 British travellers were prevented from entering Austria after they could not provide the necessary documentation for entry – proof of a booster vaccination and a negative PCR test.

It is believed many of the travellers had negative PCR tests from within the previous 72 hours, and not 48 hours. Many of the affected people flew back to the UK immediately but 40 were placed in quarantine in a hotel in Innsbruck. Additionally, 12 people have since provided negative PCR test results and been granted entry into Tyrol.

The UK is now classed as a virus variant country by Austria. 

READ MORE: UPDATED: The UK and three European countries on Austria’s virus variant list

Omicron cases tripled in Austria this week with vast majority in Vienna 

Cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant have tripled over the past week, while PCR tests and sequencing show the mutation is most prevalent in Vienna. 

At least 1,218 new Omicron cases have been discovered over the previous week across the country, although experts believe the numbers are likely higher due to lower reporting across the holiday period. 

Over the previous week, there were 332 new Omicron cases. On December 26th, authorities confirmed the Omicron variant was now dominant in Vienna. 

The vast majority of Omicron cases have been detected in Vienna (1,065 of 1,697), however this is at least in part due to the capital’s test and sequencing infrastructure, which is the most comprehensive in the country. 

Vienna’s PCR test and sequencing infrastructure is far better than that in the rest of the country, making it easier to determine how widespread a variant is. 

In Lower Austria, for example, 160 Omicron cases have been detected, while there have been 42 in Styria and 13 in Carinthia. 

Spring weather forecast for New Year’s Eve

As we head towards the end of 2021, subtropical air from the Canary Islands is expanding across Europe and pushing cold weather to the north and east of the continent.

This means Austria is set for a spring-like New Year’s Eve with temperatures up to 17 degrees in Lower Austria. The weather is even forecast to be “warm” at altitudes above 3,000 metres with temperatures expected to rise above zero.


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