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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

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

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Photo credit: Erik Johansen / NTB

Federal Government meets with Gecko today

The Austrian Federal Government is today meeting with the country’s Covid Crisis Coordination Commission (Gecko). The fast-spreading Omicron variant will be the main topic of discussion.

It is expected that General Director for Public Security Katharina Reich and Major General Rudolf Striedinger will present suggestions for how vital areas of Austria’s infrastructure can be kept running amid rising infection and K1 (close contact) numbers.

It is also possible that the quarantine rules for contact persons of a positive case could be shortened to avoid a shortage of workers across the country.

Vienna, Salzburg and Tyrol seeing biggest rise in Covid-19 case numbers

On Wednesday, after the Ministry of Social Affairs published new infection figures several hours late, it was revealed the number of positive cases had increased by 77 percent on the previous day (9,761 cases were reported in 24 hours). The majority of new infections came from Vienna, followed by Salzburg and Tyrol.

The Covid forecast consortium didn’t expect the number of new cases to reach 10,000 in one day until next week. On Wednesday, the consortium forecast a high of 17,000 new cases in 24 hours in a worst case scenario. A record of 15,809 new infections was announced on November 19th, 2021.

Additionally, the consortium predicts the seven-day incidence in Tyrol could rise above 3,000 by next Wednesday January 12th.

Wien Energie employees isolate themselves

Wien Energie has confirmed 50 staff members have moved into their workplace for the next four weeks to ensure the city’s energy supply is guaranteed.

This follows concerns that up to a third of Austria’s workforce might become sick or have to quarantine in the coming weeks as cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant continue to rise.

Staff members also moved into Wien Energie during the first outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020 as part of an emergency plan.

Thousands of homes without power due to snow in Carinthia

Up to 20,000 homes have been left without electricity in Carinthia after heavy snowfall across the province brought down trees.

By Thursday morning, the fire brigade reported 600 operations throughout Carinthia. Several streets are still closed due to fallen trees, and three railway lines – including the Karawankenbahn between Villach and Rosenbach – are out of operation. 

Traffic accidents and stuck cars have also been reported across Carinthia.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Five dead in severe storms and trains disrupted, pension increase discussed, Covid-19 risk falling and more news from Austria on Friday.

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

Severe storms lead to deaths of five people, including two children, in Austria

Severe storms, including gusts of wind of up to 140 km/h, swept across Austria on Thursday afternoon. Sadly five people – including two children – died in Carinthia and Lower Austria. Several people were injured, some seriously. In Styria, especially in Graz, the thunderstorm caused much damage and caused massive power outages that affected thousands of homes. ÖBB  stopped running all trains in Carinthia, East Tyrol and Styria during Thursday afternoon.

READ MORE: Five people dead after violent storms hit Austria

The Frequency Festival was also temporarily closed due to the storms.

According to the Österreichischen Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre) there is a red severe weather warning level in four of the nine federal states early on Friday morning. Heavy rainfall is expected as well as thunderstorms and hail.

READ MORE: Austria heading into a rainy and cooler weekend after heatwave peak

Plan to create stream in Ottakring area of Vienna to combat overheating

A 40m stretch of asphalt is to be turned into a stream in Ottakring in a pilot project which could be extended, using streams and waterways to create more cool areas in Vienna. The first watercourse in the ProBach project will flow between the youth center, Alt-Ottakring church and Heurigen. Trees should then be planted along the stream which could cool the nearby streets, broadcaster ORF reports.

Pension increase of at least 5.8 percent

Pensions are expected to increase by at least 5.8 percent in Austria due to the current high rates of inflation. The increase will be calculated using inflation figures ​​from August 2021 to July 2022. As Statistics Austria has calculated, the adjustment figure is expected to be at least 5.8 percent, broadcaster ORF reports. However, there are calls for politicians to do more to help pensioners with the cost of living increases.

Gas ordinance amended to combat shortages

The Gas Market Model Ordinance 2020 has been amended by the Austrian energy regulator E-control to ensure that there is an uninterrupted supply of gas to the country’s power plants. The strategic gas reserve may be used to ensure that the pressure in the gas network does not drop in the event of a delivery stop. Gas consumers with high output are also obliged to register for the trading system (FlexMOL) as a precautionary measure so that they can then trade gas volumes more quickly in an emergency.

In Tyrol and Vorarlberg, which are not connected to the Austrian gas network but are supplied via Germany, a new regulation states that gas  withdrawn from the Haidach and Seven Fields storage facilities should be returned at the border. An agreement between Austria and Germany will be signed to this effect, broadcaster ORF reports. 

READ MORE: ENERGY CRISIS: Will Austria have enough gas for winter?

Companies run by people from outside Austria add billions to Vienna’s economy

As The Local reported on Thursday, companies run by Viennese people with a migration background add around 8.3 billion euros annually in terms of business for the Austrian capital according to  a survey by the Chamber of Commerce. These companies also create around 45,500 jobs in Vienna alone, and generate around ten billion extra euros of business throughout Austria.

READ MORE: How migrants contribute to Vienna’s economy

Fees increase for water, waste disposal and parking tickets in Vienna

The City of Vienna is increasing the fees for water, sewers, waste disposal and parking ticket prices, it was announced on Thursday. The tariffs for municipal services are being adjusted in Vienna on the basis of the Valorisation Act in force.

At mid-year, it is checked whether the consumer price index has risen by three percent or more since the last increase – which it has. The adjustment will take effect in early 2023.

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