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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.

Man eats a Krapfen
It's traditional to eat Krapfen in Austria today. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Enjoy Austrian Shrove Tuesday!

Today is Faschingsdienstag or Shrove Tuesday in Austria, so get ready to eat a lot of Krapfen (doughnuts) and enjoy watching people wearing crazy carnival costumes. 

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All change for parking in Vienna

From today (March 1st), every district of Vienna will require a Parkpickerl (parking permit) or Parkschein (parking ticket), bringing an end to free parking in the capital. In parts of Vienna, such as the 11th, 13th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd districts, it’s the first time that short-term parking zones and resident permits are being used. 

Click the following link for more information. 

READ MORE: Here’s how parking in Austria will change in March

READ MORE: Everything that changes about life in Austria in March

Austria prepares for influx of refugees from Ukraine with welcoming centres, free train travel and helpline

More than 500,000 people had already left Ukraine on Monday, according to a tweet from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, and Austria is preparing for an influx of refugees from the country.

According to Der Standard newspaper, 318 Ukrainian nationals had entered Austria by Monday morning. People fleeing from the war in Ukraine are allowed to use the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) free of charge.

The EU is expecting up to four million refugees from Ukraine to enter its borders over the coming months. EU interior ministers have agreed that Ukrainian refugees will be able to stay in the EU for up to three years without having to apply for asylum.

READ MORE: EU warns bloc nations to brace for millions of Ukraine refugees

Austria’s federal government has already created accommodation for 3,000 Ukrainian refugees. These are located in reception centres in Traiskirchen, Lower Austria and Thalham in Salzburg. Vienna will set up an arrival centre for refugees in the Leopoldstadt Sport Hall in Engerthstrasse, close to the River Danube, which will offer advice, medical and psychosocial care.

More than 100 people have already offered to host refugees by emailing [email protected]. A 24-hour information hotline for refugees in Ukrainian has been set up on 0043 1 2676 87 09 460. 

Warning over Champagne bottles filled with MDMA 

A warning has been issued by the Dutch Authority for Food and Consumer Goods Safety (NVWA) about bottles of Moët & Chandon champagne which could contain MDMA or Ecstasy. So far contaminated bottles have been found  in the Netherlands and Germany.

The three-litre champagne bottles from Moët & Chandon Ice Impérial have the lot code LAJ7QAB6780004. This code can be found on the label on the back of the bottle, according to Austria’s Minstry of Health. 

Fears as potassium iodide tablets run out in Austrian pharmacies

Austrians have been stocking up on potassium iodide due to fears over battles over the Chernobyl disaster site and Russia putting its nuclear weapons on alert.

This has led to some shortages at pharmacies. The tablets can be taken in the event of a nuclear emergency to prevent thyroid cancer. The  Chamber of Pharmacists said there was a bottleneck at present in the supply of tablets and urged people not to take the tablets unless told to do so by the health authorities. 

In Austria, the Federal Ministry of Health has kept a stock of potassium iodide tablets for use in the population for more than 20 years.

The Ministry of Health recommends keeping a store of the tablets at home, for use by anyone aged under 40, and in schools and kindergartens. ​​

People aged under 18, pregnant or breastfeeding women can get the tablets for free at any pharmacy; people aged between 18 and 40 years can buy them at a very low price.

Concerns about school transports in Styria

Politicians in Styria have started a petition due to concerns about free transport for children to school. Since 1971 school transport is supposed to be free in Austria, but often funding from federal government does not cover the full costs, according to broadcaster ORF.

Free travel is only given to children living more than two kilometers from school, although increased traffic and weather conditions sometimes mean it is not safe for them to walk this far in winter. 

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Authorities looking to curb illegal racing, energy prices rising, traffic expected ahead of the extended weekend and more news from Austria on Friday.

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

Vienna wants to take action against speeding drivers

The City of Vienna is looking for ways to deal with illegal races across its street, especially in its 19th-Döbling district, where accidents happen too often, daily Der Standard reported.

Some measures have already been taken, including adding concrete guard walls in parking lots where racers meet and adding a 30km/h speed zone.

Now, Viennese authorities want changes in laws at a federal level, specifically a way to legally confiscate cars in cases of serious infractions or multiple offences.

READ ALSO: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

Rising energy costs

Austrian households paid 45 percent more for energy in June than in the same month the year before, Die Presse says. The prices of fuels, heating oil and gas have risen sharply. Wood pellets and firewood are also more expensive.

When it comes to electricity and gas, many providers are also increasing prices.

In addition to the gas crisis, other factors also affected the price of electricity: drought in large parts of Europe reduces production in river power plants. Besides that, many nuclear power plants are not in operation due to technical defects; others have to be throttled because the rivers used for cooling lead were either too warm or had too little water.

“The high prices are a signal for diversification towards more wind power, photovoltaics, and geothermal energy and at the same time, more energy efficiency and energy saving”, Austria’s Energy Agency said.

READ ALSO: Cost of living: Austria’s postal service announces prices increases

Austria wants to reopen its embassy in Baghdad

Austria is looking to reopen its embassy in Iraq by September 1st, daily Kurier reported. The Austrian ambassador left Baghdad in January 1991, with other Western diplomats, due to security reasons.

According to the Kurier, the embassy in Baghdad is now to be “housed in a protected, international area as a first step”, with security forces hired locally. The authorities believe permanent representation in the country will be a “decisive advantage” for Austrian companies and organisations.

Additionally, a specific officer in the embassy should inform Vienna of “current developments and the prevailing situation in Iraq” and, in particular, any news on the topic of migration.

READ ALSO: MAP: Who are the foreigners in Austria?

Traffic and troubles for the extended weekend ahead

Austria’s ÖAMTC expects heavy travel on the country’s transit routes ahead of the long weekend and warned motorists to expect traffic jams and queues by the borders.

The transport club said many travellers continue to drive south while some are already driving in the opposite direction returning from vacation. The extended weekend due to the Monday holiday (Mariä Himmelfahrt) also favours day trips and short breaks, especially with the nice weather forecast.

The worst traffic should be divided into Sunday and Monday, ÖAMTC warns.

READ ALSO: ‘Bad and hasty drivers’: Your verdict on scrapping Austrian autobahn speed limits

Heat and thunderstorms this Friday in Austria

Though the day starts sunny in most of Austria, the afternoon should bring showers and thunderstorms, especially above the mountains. In the east, it should be more stable and sunny, Austria’s meteorologic agency ZAMG said. Afternoon temperatures will be between 22C and 27C.

During the evening hours, the rain will subside and dry weather generally prevails. Low temperatures will be between 8C and 17C.

“In Vienna, sunny weather prevails, even if clouds seem denser. Short rains cannot be ruled out”, ZAMG says. Afternoon temperatures will be around 27C. The night will be around 16C.

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

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