SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

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

Antigen test
A rapid antigen test showing a positive result for Covid. Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP

How testing could change in Austria

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein has advocated a return to the use of at-home antigen tests if the number of new Covid cases continues to rise sharply and it is no longer possible to offer free PCR tests for all.

Crisis committee Gecko suggested such a change last week, to prioritise offering PCR tests for key workers such as those in hospitals and schools.

Mückstein told Austrian media that the government was discussing these possible changes with Gecko, which could come into effect as early as this week.

Property prices soar in Austria’s ski regions

The pandemic has seen an increased interest in second homes in Austria’s holiday areas, with a continued clear impact on prices.

In 15 popular ski areas in Austria, the prices for apartments rose by an average of 12 percent from €6700 to €7500 euros per square metre in 2021, according to data analysis by the real estate portal ImmoScout24 cited by ORF.

Kitzbühel is the most expensive place to live, where prices rose by 24 percent to reach €13,979 per square metre.

Austria’s Stopp Corona app comes to an end

The Ministry of Health is ending its funding for the Stopp Corona app, as Die Presse was first to report.

The app was a way to inform recent contacts of a Covid infection, which was used around 17,000 times, but now Austria is focusing on other tools such as its Green Pass.

Updated quarantine rules for Vienna kindergartens

From today, new rules about Covid quarantines in Vienna’s kindergartens come into effect, meaning they only need to close after two confirmed Covid cases instead of one.

More and more Austrian companies are only hiring fully vaccinated employees

“We see that more and more companies want their employees to be vaccinated for safety reasons,” said Austrian Labour Minister Martin Kocher at a press conference on Tuesday.

By federal law, 3G (proof of either vaccination, recovery from Covid or regular negative tests) is required for employees in workplaces where they can’t rule out close contact with others (excluding a few jobs such as truck drivers). The government has said this will remain the case even after the vaccine mandate comes into effect in February, but individual companies can choose to go a step further and require 2G.

Vienna tops global travel lists for 2022

If you’re reading this you probably already know the charms of the Austrian capital, and it’s being recognised in global travel lists.

The UK’s Independent named it first in its list of the best cities to visit this year, and Vienna also made Bloomberg’s ‘Where to go in 2022’ list. Bloomberg invited readers to “go on a cookie crawl” and hailed the capital as a “small, walkable gem”. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Inflation at 7.2 percent, Austria tries to reduce dependence on Russian gas and more news on Thursday.

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

Inflation rose to 7.2 percent in April

Inflation in Austria has continued to accelerate. According to Statistics Austria, the inflation rate in April was 7.2 percent – ​​the last time there was such a high inflation rate was in October 1981. Expenditure on transport and housing accounted for three-fifths of inflation. Compared to the previous month of March, the price level rose by 0.4 percent. “In addition to fuel and energy products, rising food prices are currently also responsible for the rise in inflation,” said Statistics Austria Director General Tobias Thomas on Wednesday.

READ MORE: 

Austria plans to reduce dependence on Russian gas by 10 percent

Austria is to reduce its dependence on Russian gas by ten percent (taking it to 70 percent) by connecting the Haidach gas storage facility in Salzburg to the Austrian gas network before the end of this year. This  strategic gas reserve, which previously served Bavaria in nearby Germany, is to be increased by 7.4 terawatt hours (TWh) to 20 TWh. This will cover the gas consumption of two winter months, broadcaster ORF

The additional gas volume of the strategic reserve should come from non-Russian sources, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) has promised. 

In addition, the National Council passed a regulation on Thursday allowing the state to commission suppliers with the provision and storage of natural gas. Industrial companies that store gas are to be given collateral. They should also be able to dispose of their gas reserves themselves in the event of a crisis. Only when system stability requires it does the state access these reserves in exchange for compensation.

READ MORE: What is Austria’s emergency plan if Russia cuts gas supply?

Labour Chamber raises concerns that a third of Viennese adults do not have Austrian citizenship

Austria’s Labour Chamber (Arbeitkammer) has pointed out many people working and living in Vienna are excluded from the democratic process, because they are not Austrian citizens. In a thread on Twitter, the organisation noted that 30 percent of Viennese people over 16 do not have Austrian citizenship, including many young people who were born in Austria. In Austria, if your parents are not Austrian, you must submit proof you have lived legally in Austria for five years and have been resident for 10 years, according to the Chamber. You must also prove that your net income (after bills, housing costs and loan repayments) is above €1,030.49. The chamber points out only a third of Austrians themselves meet these stringent requirements. 

READ MORE:

Warnings over large numbers of train passengers on upcoming public holidays 

Austria’s train company ÖBB is warning “very large number of passengers” are expected to use the railways around the forthcoming holidays of Ascension Day, Pentecost and Corpus Christi. It says it has expanded its capacities as much as possible and additional staff have been deployed, but warns if too many passengers board trains this could lead to the train journey being interrupted “for safety reasons” in “exceptional cases” and passengers without a seat or reservation having to leave the train, according to ÖBB. ORF reports the company recommends making a reservation before travel, especially on the most popular connections – even if you have a climate ticket which offers unlimited annual train travel in Austria. 

Bavaria clashes with Tyrol

Bavaria’s Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter (CSU) has called on EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to initiate infringement proceedings against the Republic of Austria. He claims checks made by Austria in Tyrol before trucks can use the Brenner Pass and the practice of ​​Blockabfertigung (block handling) trucks are causing systematic traffic problems in Bavaria and called for talks in Brussels. Tyrol’s governor Günther Platter (ÖVP) said this demand was “insane”.

Broadcaster ORF reports that there are fears that Munich will also be affected by the same issues as the state of Salzburg is now also examining similar solutions at the Walserberg border crossing. Bernreiter wrote to the President of the Commission to say a solution must finally be found for Alpine transit traffic,: “Residents and truck drivers have been suffering from traffic congestion for far too long.” The problem must be “solved constructively and together”.

Calls to sanction Austria’s former foreign minister who danced with Putin at her wedding

German MEPs have called on the EU Council to sanction Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissl (FPÖ), who notoriously danced with Vladimir Putin at her wedding in 2018. Putin also gave her sapphire earrings worth €50,000 as a wedding gift. The Austrian journalist Armin Wolf told the ZIB programme sanctions could be put in place today (Thursday).

Vienna launched campaign against flushing rubbish down the toilet 

Vienna has launched a campaign to stop people throwing cooking oil and wet wipes down the toilet, after revealing around 20 tonnes of “solids” are removed by the municipal sewage treatment plant in Simmering..

A website provides information about the correct disposal methods for all types of waste. With a “rinse”, users can test their knowledge of what is allowed in the toilet and what is not. A song, performed by five “stool gang” characters, tackles the subject in an easily accessible way and will be used on the radio and in social networks. It will also be shown on adverts in restaurant toilets.  Pouring cooking oil down the sink leads to rats and fatbergs, the city pointed out.

Restaurants and Inns in Vienna may have to put their prices up by up to 20 percent

People wishing to go to Vienna’s inns and restaurants will face bills which are up to 20 percent higher by the end of the year due to increased energy and food prices, the  Vienna Chamber of Commerce has said. Peter Dobcak, chairman of the specialist group for gastronomy in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce told Wien Heute (Vienna Today) on Wednesday that the industry was “torn” because it wanted to reduce the burden on people suffering due to high energy prices, but at the same time, had to keep businesses afloat.

The restaurateur Hans Stöckl, who runs the Gasthaus Nestroy in the second district, said he was struggling with the skyrocketing electricity prices, telling ORF that each months he faced additional costs of up to 900 euros due to this factor alone. Some foods such as cooking oil, flour, eggs and dairy products, have also tripled in price.

There are also concerns that people will stop going out to eat due to the cost of living crisis.

SHOW COMMENTS