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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks with Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg. Photo: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

Schallenberg responds to Ukraine crisis

Russia has ordered troops into two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, after recognising them as independent on Monday.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has commented on the crisis on Twitter, saying Austria will not “stand idly by” and would “do everything in our power to avoid war in Europe”.

Austria’s entry rules change today

As of today, the 3G rule applies to people travelling to Austria from overseas, rather than the previous 2G+ rule.

That means you need proof of either vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test, meaning that unvaccinated travellers are able to enter Austria, and people with 2G proof no longer need to take a test or show proof of a booster in addition. Note that you will still need proof of a booster to be considered fully vaccinated under the entry rules if your second dose was more than nine months ago.

From Monday, school attendance will be obligatory again

This means that parents will need to provide a doctor’s note or ask for permission if they want to keep children home from school, after this requirement was lifted during the peak of the Omicron wave.

And from March 5th, teachers will no longer be required to wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status.

Germany to continue Austrian border checks

The German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser confirmed this on a visit to Vienna on Monday, saying they would continue “as long as there is a need” due to the “exceptional situation”.

Germany, along with Austria and a few other Schengen countries, brought in the checks in 2015 during the refugee crisis, and this includes at the motorway links between Bavaria and Austria. Although the EU Commission has tried to have these checks lifted, it has been unsuccessful.

Economic help for Covid-hit businesses to end after March

Finance Minister Magnus Brunner said that the planned re-opening steps on March 5th, which will see most Covid restrictions removed, mean that the financial support for affected businesses will largely come to an end. But there will be slightly different offerings depending on the sector and individual cases.

How the pandemic has pushed up used car prices in Austria

Many models of cars have a higher sale value than they did two years ago, despite the extra age and usage, according to an analysis by secondhand sales platform Willhaben. This is partly down to supply chain issues which have led to reduced availability of cars, and partly because the pandemic has made more people seek out their own vehicle rather than use shared public transport.

One example from Willhaben was a Ford Focus built in 2017: in 2022, these models are selling for more than ten percent more than they did in 2020.

Covid-positive women reported to police for distributing their saliva

Police in Lower Austria have told public broadcaster ORF that two women aged 37 and 58 distributed test tubes of their saliva in test tubes after testing positive for Covid-19. The intention was for non-infected people to be able to fake an infection using the saliva, to get a certificate of recovery and meet the 2G requirement needed to access restaurants and other services without getting a vaccination.

In total, ten people were reported to police, who received a tip-off and seized the saliva samples during house searches.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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.

READ MORE:

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. 

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