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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.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
Photo: Olaf Kraak / ANP / AFP

Mask mandate to be lifted for all Austrian school students in classrooms from February 21st

Education Minister Martin Polaschek made the announcement on Austrian TV this morning, and also said that school events will again be permitted from next Monday. This applies only to the classroom, so masks are still required in the rest of the school building, and teachers and other staff still need to wear them.

Starting from today, children in primary schools (Volksschulen) can already remove their masks while in the classroom.

Austria’s anti-vaccination party turns one

The MFG (Menschen, Freiheit, Grundrechte meaning ‘people, freedom, fundamental rights’) party in Austria, which was founded on an anti-vaccination platform, turns one year old on February 14th.

What’s going on with Austria’s vaccine mandate?

It officially came into force at the start of the month, but with the first checks only set to be carried out from mid-March, it’s still not clear if the Covid-19 vaccination mandate will ever actually be implemented. Chancellor Karl Nehammer told the Krone Zeitung that the government will follow the advice of the country’s Covid Commission.

More warm weather on the way

It doesn’t quite feel like February in much of Austria at the moment, and the spring-like weather is set to continue with a warm, sunny start to the week and up to 18C (but strong winds in many places) forecast for Thursday.

But that will be broken up with rain and cloud on Tuesday and Wednesday, with some snow depending on the altitude. In short, we’ll get a bit of everything this week weather-wise, so make the most of the sun while it’s out.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Whether you’re celebrating at one of Austria’s romantic restaurants, on a stroll through its woods or around its beautifully ornate city centres, or simply doing your own thing, happy February 14th!

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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.

READ MORE: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

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

UPDATE: Austrian ex-minister who danced with Putin quits Russian oil company Rosneft

On Monday morning, the EU Commission announced Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissl could face EU sanctions for failing to resign from her job with Russian oil giant Rosnef.

Later on Monday, Kneissl announced her resignation – although it is unclear what impact this will have on the sanctions process. 

Austrian media reports the rule includes an annual salary of 515,000 euros. The EU Commission could include her on the sanctions list, which could soon mean her assets are frozen and her bank accounts are blocked. 

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has left his position with the firm after sanctions were threatened. 

Note: this story was updated on Monday afternoon after Kneissl quit her board position at Russian oil giant Rosneft.

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.