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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.

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

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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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