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

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

Karl Nehammer
Catch up on the Chancellor's comments on the coming vaccine mandate and ongoing protests against Covid measures. Photo: Johanna Geron/Pool/AFP

Austria’s vaccine mandate takes a step closer to becoming reality

The Austrian government presented its final draft of the vaccine mandate law on Sunday following intense discussions with opposition parties and experts over the weekend.

One change from earlier versions is that the jabs will only be mandatory for adults, after previous versions of the law applied to everyone aged over 14. Other key points are:

  • Those who are found not to have been vaccinated will face an initial fine of €600 or up to €3,600 if they decide to challenge it in court.
  • People can avoid a fine if they get their first vaccination within two weeks of being notified.
  • The fines will only come into affect in mid-March.
  • A single person can be fined a maximum of four times during the year.
  • No one will go to prison if they refuse to pay their fines.

Read more about what the law contains here.

Nationwide Covid incidence rate passes 1,000

Over the weekend, the number of new confirmed cases of Covid per 100,000 residents over the past seven days topped 1,000 to reach 1,196. Salzburg had the highest incidence at 2,124, followed by Tyrol (1,958) and Vienna (1,629). 

Chancellor criticises violence at protests against Covid measures

Once again, large protests took place over the weekend in multiple towns and cities across Austria, to protest both Austria’s Covid restrictions and the coming vaccine mandate.

While the protests have been mostly peaceful, police have warned of far-right extremist involvement.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on Austrian TV on Sunday evening that a total of 52 police officers have been injured during the demonstrations since they first began, something he said was “completely unacceptable”.

Tourism minister warns ‘black sheep’ of hospitality sector

A prominent Austrian startup founder, Florian Gschwandtner, has apologised after sharing a video on Instagram of a rowdy party in an apres-ski bar in Kitzbühel, a Tyrol town with an incidence rate of over 3,000. Apres ski businesses are currently closed by law along with nightclubs, while a 10pm curfew applies to other restaurants and bars.

Asked about the video, Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger said she had “absolutely no sympathy” with business owners who broke Austria’s current Covid rules, and noted that businesses which violate these rules are subject to repay any financial aid they reecived from the government during the pandemic. The Interior Ministry said the bar in the video was regularly checked and that an investigation into the video was underway, Die Presse reports.

Weather for this week

After a pleasant weekend across most of the country, Monday will bring strong winds to the west, with gusts of up to 100 km/h expected in Lower Austria and Vienna.

Lower lying areas can expect mild weather, with up to 10C in the Graz area for example, and further west there will be less rain and wind.

From Wednesday onwards, more snow can be expected, with stormy weather again on Thursday.

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For members


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

First monkeypox case found in Austria, Van der Bellen to run again, millions of Russian assets frozen, and more news on Monday

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

First case of monkeypox in Vienna

The first case of monkeypox has reached Vienna. A 35-year-old man is being treated in an isolation ward in a clinic in the Favoriten district after developing typical symptoms of the disease: a slight fever and pustules. Contact tracing is already underway, broadcaster ORF reports. Experts are unsure why the disease, which is normally only occurs in Africa, is spreading throughout Europe.

Alexander Van der Bellen to run for President again 

Austria’s President Van der Bellen has announced on Twitter that he will stand once again for the President of Austria. This was expected last week, when a TikTok video was released showing footage of the President which played The Clash song, “Should I stay or should I go?”.

The Greens, liberal NEOS and left wing SPÖ parties have all welcomed the decision, but the far right FPÖ party has announced it plans to put up a rival candidate, broadcaster ORF reports. The FPÖ’s leader, Herbert Kickl, criticised Van der Bellen for his support of the Covid policy in Austria and for “weakening Austria’s neutrality”, the broadcaster reports.

EXPLAINED: How does Austria’s presidential election work?

Russian assets worth millions of euros frozen in Austria

Around 254 million euros in Russian assets have been frozen in a total of 97 accounts in Austria as part of  EU sanctions, the Federal Chancellery announced on Sunday. Broadcaster ORF reports this is twice as much as Germany has managed. A task force led by the Directorate for State Security and Intelligence (DSN) in the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for investigating the assets. The investigators also managed to locate five land register entries that were supposed to have served to conceal assets.

Villa in Attersee occupied by squatters

Anarchist squatters gained access to a villa believed to be owned by a Russian oligarch villa in Burgau am Attersee in the municipality of St. Gilgen on Saturday The squatters demanded sanctions from the Russian owner Igor Shuvalov, who , according to media reports, is said to have vacated the villa in March. The squatters have since left the building.

Austria’s former foreign minister could face sanctions soon

Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissl could face sanctions from the EU, after she failed to resign from her job with Russian oil giant Rosnef. By contrast, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has left his position with the firm after sanctions were threatened. 

The OE24 website reports she will continue in her role, which pays an annual salary of 515,000 euros. It is now up to the EU Commission to propose them for inclusion in the sanctions list, which could soon mean her assets are frozen and her bank accounts are blocked. 

Vienna’s Uno City promised 30 million euro refurb

Vienna’s UNO City, which is home to the city’s international organisations and its 5,000 workers, has been promised a 30 million euro refurb by the Republic of Austria, which owns the high rise buildings. The  office towers in the Donaustadt are more than 40 years old and urgently need renovation. The total costs could end up being ten times higher than the 30 million euros promised so far. for the first phase. Broadcaster ORF reports the buildings no longer comply with building and fire regulations.