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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.

Anti vax protestors Austria
Protests are expected today as Austria prepares to pass a law making vaccines mandatory for all adults without medical exemptions. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Vaccine mandate to be passed today

Today’s the day that Austria’s law making vaccines compulsory is set to be passed in the National Council, where it is expected to get a large majority with only the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) voting against.

Austria will become the first place in Europe except the Vatican City to introduce such a mandate, though other countries have moved in a similar direction. Greece has begun issuing fines to unvaccinated over-60s, Italy has made the jab mandatory for everyone over 50, while a full vaccine mandate for the general population has also been discussed by politicians in Slovakia and Germany for example.

In Austria, the first fines won’t be issued until mid-March and even then it will be possible to avoid the fine by getting the Covid-19 vaccine within two weeks. 

Protests are expected in central Vienna during the day, but there is a ban on holding protests within 300 metres during a meeting of the National Council which means police have refused permits to several demonstration organisers. One rally has been confirmed on Maria-Theresien-Platz between 7am and midnight.

At-home antigen tests to be accepted for 3G again (but not in Vienna)

Self-tests for Covid-19 will once again be accepted as 3G in all of Austria except Vienna, after the government updated its guidelines to allow regions and the healthcare sector to cope with a sharp rise in new cases.

In order for them to be accepted as 3G, the test must have been recorded in an official system and verified. The test results will be valid for 24 hours from the time of testing.

Salzburg to send SMS to people who test positive for Covid

The new system comes into effect from tomorrow, Salzburger Nachrichten reports. This is to take some of the pressure off overworked contact tracers who were previously aiming to phone confirmed cases.

The text will contain a link where recipients can enter information about their isolation.

Austria records a new all-time high for daily Covid cases

A total of 27,677 new infections were reported in the 24 hours up to Wednesday, the Health and Interior Ministries confirmed on Wednesday afternoon (this was revised slightly from earlier statements).

According to Austria’s Covid Forecasting Consortium, the Omicron wave has not yet reached its peak and around 40,000 daily cases can be expected next week. 

Vienna gets its first Queer Museum

And now for something non Covid-related. Since the start of 2022, Vienna’s Folklore Museum has been hosting the Queer Museum Vienna, the first specifically LGBTQ-themed museum in the Austrian capital which will remain at the Folklore Museum until June.

Price hikes on consumer goods

Electricity and fuel costs have risen significantly in recent months, but it’s not only your monthly bills where you might feel the pinch.

Rising production costs are being passed onto consumers in other areas, with IKEA Austria confirming price hikes of nine percent and is one of multiple retailers raising their prices for consumers according to Salzburger Nachrichten which lamented “a lot of fun things are getting more expensive”.

Lovers of baked goods are affected too, with prices for bread and pastries likely to rise by around 15 percent according to the Chamber of Commerce, again due to higher energy prices.

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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.

READ MORE: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

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

UPDATE: Austrian ex-minister who danced with Putin quits Russian oil company Rosneft

On Monday morning, the EU Commission announced Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissl could face EU sanctions for failing to resign from her job with Russian oil giant Rosnef.

Later on Monday, Kneissl announced her resignation – although it is unclear what impact this will have on the sanctions process. 

Austrian media reports the rule includes an annual salary of 515,000 euros. The EU Commission could include her on the sanctions list, which could soon mean her assets are frozen and her bank accounts are blocked. 

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has left his position with the firm after sanctions were threatened. 

Note: this story was updated on Monday afternoon after Kneissl quit her board position at Russian oil giant Rosneft.

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.