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

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

Central Vienna
A couple walk past closed boutique stores on the Graben, a street in the city centre of Vienna that is normally packed with crowds of people on November 22, 2021. - Austria has entered a nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain spiraling coronavirus infections. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Austria has got more corrupt, survey shows

The survey in question is the annual Corruption Index from Transparency International, in which Austria lost two points compared to last year, gaining only 74 out of a possible 100 points.

The country’s international ranking actually increased from 15th place to 13th, but the local chapter of Transparency International said this was “not least due to the fact that corruption is also becoming an ever greater problem in many other countries”.

Could Austria soon ease restrictions despite Omicron wave?

Case numbers are still rising as Austria faces the Omicron wave, but that may no longer be such a decisive factor in setting restrictions if the milder nature of this variant means healthcare facilities can cope with a higher number of cases.

Some politicians, including Burgenland governor Hans Peter Doskozil and the NEOS opposition party, have called to an end to the lockdown on unvaccinated people and for the 10pm curfew on restaurants and bars to be relaxed.

But any easing of restrictions would come from discussions between the GECKO crisis committee and the government, who haven’t suggested that this will be happening in the very near future.

Viennese businesses call for end to Covid demos

Weekly demonstrations in Vienna’s city centre have discouraged locals and visitors from going to the area, business owners have complained in a letter to the city council.

“While no one is allowed to enter a shop or bar who is not vaccinated, thousands of unvaccinated people move through the city center without keeping distance and without masks every week,” the letter states, also noting that the heavy police presence and circling helicopters each week added to a sense of unease.

More raids on fake vaccine passes

Police have been carrying out more checks on bars and restaurants in Schladming ahead of the Nightrace ski event.

Although no violations by apres ski venues were found, police did seize more than ten fake vaccine passes during house raids following an anonymous tip-off.

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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.