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

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

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
Drivers in Vienna spent an average of 66 hours in traffic jams last year. Photo: Arno Senoner/AFP

A third of Austria’s Covid victims lived in care homes

In the first two years of the pandemic, 2020 and 2021, a total of 13,365 people died after testing positive for Covid-19 in Austria. A third of those (4,237) lived in care homes. In 2020, care home residents made up 42 percent of victims while last year they accounted for one in four deaths. Most of these deaths occurred between November 2020 and January 2021, so shortly before residents were able to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Criticism over implementation of Austria’s vaccine mandate

There is no national solution for recording medical exemptions to Austria’s new vaccination requirement, with each of Austria’s nine regions responsible for this, for which some regional leaders have criticised the national government.

Austrian writer Gerhard Roth dies aged 79

The Graz native won many literary awards for his work, with his best known piece being Die Archive des Schweigens made up of seven volumes.

Vienna is Austria’s traffic jam capital

That’s according to data from navigation company Tomtom, which found that drivers in Vienna in 2021 had to expect their journeys to take 29 percent longer than they would in traffic jam-free conditions. That’s an increase from the year before, and means that a ’30 minute drive’ in reality took 39 minutes on average.

Tomtom calculated that the average commuter (making a return trip for 230 days of the year) spent 66 hours of 2021 in traffic jams. But that increased if those journeys always occurred during rush hour: the longest delays occurred in Vienna between Tuesday and Thursday between 4 pm and 6 pm.

Salzburg came second in the ranking, followed by Graz, Innsbruck and Linz.

Winter Olympics update

Austria’s medal tally is now at eight: two golds, four silvers and two bronze medals after skier Katharina Liensberger picked up a silver in the Alpine Skiing Women’s Slalom.

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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.