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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

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

School
95 percent of school classes in Austria are currently taking place in person. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP

2,600 school classes are distance-learning

According to the Health Ministry, a total of 2,600 classes (of a total of 58,000 nationwide) and nine whole schools out of Austria’s 6,000 are currently online-only due to Covid-19, meaning that 95 percent of classes are happening in person.

Under current rules, after one confirmed case in a class, in-person teaching continues with only the infected student staying at home, but other students must take tests daily for five days. If a second person in the class tests positive, they must switch to distance learning.

In Vienna, around one in ten municipal kindergartens is currently closed.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Austrian politicians and leaders of Jewish associations appealed for the atrocities of the Holocaust to be remembered and learned from on Thursday, which was Holocaust Memorial Day.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen wrote on social media that Austrians must actively oppose anti-Semitism and racism to “do justice” to the memory of the victims.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer visited the Mauthausen concentration camp memorial in Upper Austria together with Israel’s Foreign Minister Jair Lapid and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg to lay a wreath at the site.

Covid crisis meeting today

…but no big news is expected.

The national crisis committee (GECKO) will meet in the afternoon, but no press conferences are currently scheduled, a sign that they won’t recommend any easing of Covid measures (though we already know the lockdown for the unvaccinated will end on Monday). The committee has warned against “hasty” steps to reopen.

The Health Minister has been cautious when asked about relaxing measures and wants to wait until Austria has passed the peak of the Omicron wave in an estimated two or three weeks.

However, there are growing calls from the retail and gastronomy sectors as well as several regional governors to scrap the 10pm gastronomy curfew and 2G checks in shops. The head of Austria’s Chamber of Commerce Harald Mahrer has called the 10pm curfew a ‘Schnapsidee’, a German term for an idea so foolish it would only seem like a good plan under the influence of alcohol.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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.

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

Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissl could face sanctions from the EU, after she failed to resign from her job with Russian oil giant Rosnef. By contrast, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has left his position with the firm after sanctions were threatened. 

The OE24 website reports she will continue in her role, which pays an annual salary of 515,000 euros. It is now up to the EU Commission to propose them for inclusion in the sanctions list, which could soon mean her assets are frozen and her bank accounts are blocked. 

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. 

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