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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.

Zell am See
In 2021 Austria welcomed the lowest number of tourists for 50 years. Photo: Daniel Frank/Unsplash

An end to the lockdown for the unvaccinated

In case you missed it, yesterday’s big news was the government announcement that the lockdown for people without proof of 2G — which has been in place since mid-November — will end on Monday.

That doesn’t mean a lot of change in practice: people without 2G will be able to leave their homes for any reason, but will still be unable to enter places with 2G entry requirements, currently most public places.

Changes to rules over booster doses

Starting from February 1st, it will be possible to get a booster dose from three months (90 days) after the second dose, the government also announced yesterday.

However, the National Vaccination Committee still recommends getting the booster between four and six months after the second.

Some people who received their booster dose before the four-month limit were unable to receive official proof of this, with their vaccine certificates showing they had received only ‘2/2’ doses instead of ‘3/3’. After the change, these people should be able to get their valid vaccine proof.

Over 30,000 new infections

For the first time, Austria reported more than 30,000 new Covid-19 infections in 24 hours, with the Health and Interior Ministries reporting a total of 34,011 cases on Wednesday.

That’s up from 27,677 last Wednesday. Wednesdays are typically the weekday with the most recorded cases, partly because the weekly PCR tests taken in schools are often included in these results.

Second home owners lose right to vote in Lower Austria

Lower Austria’s regional government has decided to limit voting rights in provincial and municipal elections to people whose main residence (Hauptwohnsitz in German) is in the region.

One of the reasons for the change is that in March Vienna will introduce a parking permit system across the whole of the city, under which only people with their Hauptwohnsitz in Vienna can reserve a parking space. Because the two regions are neighbours and a lot of people commute between the two or have residences in both, Lower Austria anticipates people changing their registered residence as a result of the new parking rule.

How Austria’s tourism sector was hit by the pandemic

A total of 80 million overnight stays took place in Austria in 2021 — for context, you’d have to go back to 1970 to find an equally low level.

The data comes from Statistics Austria and shows a decline of just under 20 percent compared to the first year of the pandemic, 2020. The numbers fell among both foreign and domestic guests but, due to a combination of travel restrictions and Austria’s pandemic restrictions, the decline was greater among tourists from overseas. Hotels were entirely closed under Austria’s lockdowns between January and May and again in November.

Burgenland and Vienna recorded more overnight stays in 2021 than in 2020, but in the rest of the regions there were significant declines, with Salzburg and Tyrol the most affected, each seeing declines of around 30 percent year on year.

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

Covid-19 numbers on the rise, wages shrinking as cost of living increases, Finance Ministry official online communication and more news from Austria on Friday.

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

Austria’s Covid commission alerts to 70,000 daily infections soon

Austria’s commission to assess the pandemic situation, known as GECKO (Gesamtstaatliche COVID-Krisenkoordination), has alerted to rising Covid-19 numbers, Der Standard reports.

The commission believes the daily number of coronavirus infections could reach 70,000 already this summer. This is mainly because people have been travelling more than in previous years while wearing masks less often.

READ ALSO: Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Wages are shrinking and consumption is rising

Austria’s economy will grow somewhat more strongly this year than expected in March, ORF reported.

However, according to the June forecast of the economic research institutes WIFO and IHS, the outlook for the year’s second half is much gloomier.

Since inflation is higher than expected in March, gross real wages will fall by a historic 3.9 percent. However, if inflation falls, the real wages should increase significantly, about 5.3 percent, in 2023.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

Finance Ministry to contact FinanzOnline users

If Austria’s Finance Ministry contacts you, don’t worry: they will be checking everyone’s data on the FinanzOnline platform.

The goal is to have up-to-date account data so that all the announced bonuses and payments to counter the rising cost of living to be made quickly and with no issues.

The contact will happen via the FinanzOnline website and e-mail to users who allow email contact.

Of course, whenever the government or authorities announce they will reach out to people, there are always criminals looking to take advantage of it. Therefore, ensure that the message you received is from FinanzOnline and check the official website directly instead of clicking on links.

READ ALSO: When will you get your cost of living ‘bonus’ payments in Austria?

School holidays start in the east

Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland students have started their nine-week summer vacations. In the remaining Austrian states, school holidays will only begin next week.

Classes will resume on September 5th for the east and September 12th in the Western states. Austria’s ÖAMTC traffic authority expects heavy traffic jams at the beginning of the month, especially as the summer holidays have also started in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and two German federal states.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in July 2022

A break in the heatwave

The west of Austria will have a small break from the heatwave this Friday, Austria’s meteorologic central ZAMG says. A cold front arrives from the west, and maximum temperatures will be between 18C to 21C in the region, with thunderstorms.

In Vienna and Burgenland, though, maximum temperatures continue high, reaching 35C during the day.

READ ALSO: Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms