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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”. 

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

No more '3G' to enter Austria, swimming lakes warm up, compulsory vaccination debate returns and more news on Monday.

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

No more testing or proof of vaccination to come into Austria

From today (Monday 16 May), all testing/vaccination requirements to enter Austria will be removed. It is possible to come to Austria from all countries in the world without showing a negative test or proof of vaccination.

A new entry regulation was published last week  by the Ministry of Health. The cancellation of entry checks was justified by the current epidemiological situation.

There is still the possibility for countries to be classed as virus variant areas, however at present no country is currently on the list of these areas. Should a new virus variant emerge, the obligation to test, register and quarantine could be quickly imposed again, broadcaster ORF reports.

Austria’s lakes warm up for swimming

Warm temperatures of over 30 degrees in May mean that Austria’s swimming lakes are ready for use, with temperatures exceeding the 20-degree mark in the Alte Donau in Vienna, the Aubad Tulln and the Stubenbergsee in Styria. Some Carinthian lakes are already at 19 degrees, such as Lake Faak and Lake Pressegger, broadcaster ORF reports. 

READ MORE: The best lakes and swimming spots in Austria

Nehammer unanimously elected leader of the ÖVP

As The Local reported at the weekend, Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer has been formally elected leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) with 100 percent of the vote. 

The heads of the ÖVP traditionally tend to get high results in their first election as chairman. Kurz was elected party leader in 2017 with 98.7 percent of the vote. However, there has never been a 100 percent result in a first-time election until now.

READ MORE: Austria’s Nehammer formally elected party leader in unanimous vote

Compulsory vaccination law could come into force automatically in June

An ordinance suspending Austria’s compulsory vaccination law will expire at the end of May, making it possible in theory that random penalties for remaining unvaccinated could be put in place at the start of June. 

The law  was introduced in February, even though the technical requirements for it to be enacted were not in place. Before a single person was fined, the Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) suspended the law with an ordinance.

To create a new ordinance or extend the existing one stopping people from being fined, Rauch must await  the report of the vaccination commission.

This will assess from a medical and legal point of view whether the Vaccination Act is suitable and useful. In a previous report of the commission, it said there were arguments for and against mandatory vaccination for those who were completely unvaccinated.

Der Standard reports there is little political support for compulsory vaccination and says there are still technical problems regarding automated fines. According to the Ministry of Health, the infrastructure should be completed in June.


Car reduction scheme stalls 
A plan to significantly reduce traffic in Vienna’s city centre will probably not be implemented as planned in 2022. Vienna wanted to set up surveillance cameras limiting access to the city’s First District by car to residents.

At present, around 50,000 cars are registered driving in and out of the historic centre every working day. 

Der Standard newspaper reports that it has information that the new regulation will not come into force this year as planned. The necessary legislation has not been passed and there are concerns about data protection.