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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.

Horses with carriages are passing by the Coburg Palais
More spring like weather is on the way today. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Austria protected by NATO despite neutrality

Austria will be protected by NATO in the event of Russian aggression, Chancellor Karl Nehammer has told Der Standard newspaper.

At the EU summit last week in Paris, the EU states also promised those neutral EU countries that are not members of NATO, such as Austria, military assistance in the event of an attack.

According to the Chancellor, this applies to Malta, Ireland, Cyprus and Austria, but also to Finland and Sweden. Nehammer (ÖVP) told the newspaper the promise had “remarkable clarity”. However, he emphasised there were no plans for an EU army.

READ MORE: The reason behind Austria’s neutrality

Specialist refugee unit created 

Austria’s Chancellor Kark Nehammer has created a specialist unit to coordinate Ukrainian refugees, which will be headed up by Major General Michael Takacs. Takacs already worked in 2015 and 2016 as a cabinet secretary for Christian Konrad, who was Austria’s refugee coordinator at the time.

There is an enormous willingness from Austrian people  to help the refugees currently coming into Austria, according to Nehammer. Almost 30,000 lodgings for the newcomers have already been registered with the Federal Agency for Care and Support Services (BBU). 


No plans for restrictions despite spiralling Covid-19 infections

Austria’s Commission for Covid-19 (GECKO) and the Minister of Health Johannes Rauch (Greens) are against reintroducing more restrictions despite rising Covid-19 cases, broadcaster ORF reports. Numbers in hospitals are stable.

Rauch wants to make wearing masks voluntary and is against stopping free Covid tests. Compulsory vaccinations might be reintroduced in autumn. However, Finance Minister Magnus Brunner wants to phase out free testing for everyone, he told broadcaster ORF in an interview.

ANALYSIS: Are Vienna’s tighter Covid measures ‘a mistake’?

Ukrainian Saturday school numbers double 

A Ukrainian Saturday school in Vienna has seen its numbers double in the past week, Der Standard newspaper reports. The newspaper reports 450 new students have registered in the past few days.

The school, which has been running for ten years, is in Beethovenplatz 1 in the first district of Vienna. Ukrainian children attend the school in addition to their Austrian schooling at weekends, and learn the Ukrainian language and culture, but also physics, biology, history and ethical religious studies. 

More trains to transport refugees

Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) has announced that Austria will send trains to the Polish-Ukrainian border to transport refugees. Gewessler underlined that Austria will continue to provide support to Ukraine during a trip to Poland at the weekend, broadcaster  ORF reports. 

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For members


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.