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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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.

Linz
Upper Austria has halted contact tracing due to the Omicron surge, plus the rest of the news to start your week. Photo: Matthias Mitterlehner/Unsplash

People with a Covid booster can now travel to Austria from any country

The 2G+ rule applies from today to all travellers coming to Austria after the country scrapped its virus variant list which imposed stricter conditions on people from 14 countries, including the UK, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, South Africa and nine other African countries.

This means that all travellers need to show a valid vaccination or recovery certificate, and either proof of a booster dose or a negative Covid-19 test. People who have a full course of vaccination and also recovered from the virus after their vaccination are also exempt from the requirement to show a test result.

National incidence rate approaches 2,000

The rate of new cases in Austria per 100,000 residents over the past seven days is now at 1,867 according to AGES.

The delays in data that we reported on last week are ongoing, and have prompted Viennese Health Councillor to write to Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein to say the delays mean he has “the worst overview of the current situation” since the beginning of the pandemic.

Upper Austria forced to pause contact tracing 

That’s because of the surge in new cases at the moment. The region’s Councillor for Healthcare Christine Haberlander said that the rate of spread meant it was now less possible to break chains of infection through contact tracing.

People who receive a positive test result will still be contacted by healthcare authorities, but they will then be asked to inform their own recent contacts.

Flu cases on the rise in Vienna

Vienna has reported a rise in flu cases alongside the Covid-19 Omicron wave, You can find the latest flu statistics for the region on its website (in German only).

The vaccination against influenza is free for all children aged up to 15 in Austria as part of the child vaccination programme, and for people in risk groups. In Vienna, the flu vaccine is offered free to all residents.

READER QUESTION: How do I get a flu vaccine in Austria?

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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.

READ MORE:

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. 

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