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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

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

A cherry blossom
Some blossoms are starting to appear in Austria as the weather stays sunny and warmer. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Compulsory Covid-19 vaccination could be still be necessary by autumn, experts say

Austria’s new compulsory vaccination law has been put on the back burner – but this may only be temporary.

While experts concluded in Wednesday’s report that during the Omicron wave, compulsory vaccination was “not proportionate”, the report also warned of the possibility of a massive wave of infections in the autumn.

Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said the committee would meet again and report back to the government in three months, at which time a new decision over compulsory vaccination may be made, broadcaster ORF reports. 

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High numbers of infections due to easing of Covid-19 measures, says expert

Austria reported 47,795 Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, the highest figure since the pandemic began. The reason for the high number of infections has been the end of lockdown for unvaccinated people, and other relaxations of the rules, according to researcher Peter Klimek, speaking to broadcaster ORF.

Klimak said there was currently a high level of immunity in the Austrian population due to vaccinations and recovery from infections. However, this may not last until autumn. He refused to rule out the need for further lockdowns later in the year. 

READ MORE: Austria hits record daily number of Covid cases

People living in Burgenland can save up to 40 euros by filling up their cars in Hungary

Many car owners who live in the Austrian state of Burgenland are driving across the Hungarian border to fill up with cheap petrol. Drivers can save up to €40 on 60 litres of petrol by going to Hungary, broadcaster ORF reports.

In November the Hungarian government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, introduced price caps for petrol and diesel, as well as milk, sugar and flour. The move is thought to be influenced by upcoming Parliamentary elections, which will be held on April 3rd in Hungary. 

UPDATED: How to save money on fuel costs in Austria

Wifo boss suggests Russian sanctions should focus on oil and metals 

The Austrian Institute of Economic Research (Wifo) boss Gabriel Felbermayr has spoken in an interview with the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten media outlet about the possible impact of sanctions in Russia when Austria is highly reliant on Russian gas.

He said previous sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine have not been entirely effective because Moscow can support the rouble with money from the sale of oil, gas and metals.  

Due to the differences in how much individual countries in the EU depend on Russian gas, the focus should be on oil and metals to begin with, he concluded. 

European Parliament names Austria’s Freedom Party as an example of Russian influence in the EU

A report released in Strasbourg by the European Parliament has named Austria’s former FPÖ Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl as an example of the Kremlin’s influence on the EU.

The Austrian FPÖ or Freedom Party was also named as a political party which had signed cooperation agreements with Putin’s United Russia party and was reportedly willing to receive political funding from Russia.

The politician Harald Vilimsky tweeted about the report with the comment: “So the EU keeps “black lists” of unpopular citizens?” The Kurier newspaper reports the FPÖ declared at the end of last year that it no longer wanted to extend its cooperation agreement with United Russia.

Styrian pumpkin seed oil set to get pricier

The Austrian delicacy of ​​Styrian pumpkin seed oil is set to become more expensive in the coming months, due to rising energy costs as well as increasing prices for cardboard boxes, wages and freight, according to Franz Labugger, chairman of the Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil Community, speaking to ORF on Wednesday.

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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.

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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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