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

Herbert Kickl
Herbert Kickl, leader of the far-right Freedom Party, has been accused of minimising the Holocaust in recent comments comparing Covid tests in schools to Nazi persecution of Jewish children. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Will Austria shorten its Omicron quarantine?

Several countries have shortened the length of time people have to quarantine after contact with someone positive for Omicron and calls to do so in Austria have come from Vienna’s City Councilor for Health Peter Hacker and the regional leaders of Upper Austria and Carinthia.

Currently, after contact with someone positive for the Omicron variant, there is a ten-day quarantine which can be ended at the earliest after five days with a negative PCR test. This also applies to fully vaccinated people, though in the case of other variants people in this group do not have to quarantine and simply have to reduce their social contacts.

This question, along with potential tighter measures to deal with the Omicron wave, will be on the agenda as the Gecko crisis commission meets today, and again on Thursday with regional and national leaders.

Unemployment is below pre-pandemic levels (just)

The Ministry of Labour shared December’s unemployment figures on Monday, revealing that 402,378 people or 8.1 percent of the population were unemployed that month. That’s a significant reduction from December 2020 and a reduction of 5,494 from December 2019 before the Covid-19 crisis.

Labour Minister Martin Kocher said on Monday that the labour market had “immunised itself” against the effects of the pandemic.

Jewish associations report far-right leader for Holocaust denial

The leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, Herbert Kickl, has supported demonstrations against Covid-19 measures and plans for a vaccine mandate, at which protestors have carried signs comparing themselves to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Three Jewish associations said on Monday they had reported Kickl for comments he made on Austrian TV. When asked if he would condemn anti-Semitism at the protests, he instead appeared to support their message, saying that the Nazi regime’s persecution of Jews began with people being “systematically excluded”, for example from schools.

The associations have asked prosecutors to look into whether these remarks fall under the Austrian crime of “gross trivialisation of the Holocaust”.

Police carried out 28,000 daily checks on average during lockdown for the unvaccinated

The partial lockdown began on November 15th and remains in place. Since then, almost 1.4 million police checks have been carried out to check compliance with the law, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday morning. That includes adding 2G checks to regular police checks such as traffic stops, as well as patrols specifically targeting the lockdown.

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