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LOWER AUSTRIA

Smoking cigarettes in Austrian forests could cost you €7,270

In Lower Austria, smoking in or near forests is now forbidden as a way to avoid fires in the dryer than usual woods.

Smoke - or is it fog? - in the Austrian forest. Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash
Why was the public banned from entering Austrian forests for over 100 years? Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

A new ordinance published in 14 districts, with more to come, in Lower Austria has set a €7,270 fine for people caught smoking in or near forests in the region. 

The districts have a dangerous combination: drought weather and dry woods, with several forest fires occurring in recent days, Lower Austria’s Stephan Pernkopf (ÖVP) said in a press release.

READ MORE: ‘Waldeinsamkeit’ in Austria: Five peaceful forest walks near Vienna

“Forest fires are a danger to humans and animals. In addition, the flames cause enormous economic damage and endanger the diverse functions that the forest provides for our society. The recent forest fires could be quickly brought under control thanks to the dedicated commitment of our fire brigades. Still, due to the current situation, we must be cautious and protect our forest,” Pernkopf stated.

The ordinances issued prohibit smoking and igniting fires in or near the forest. A violation of the rules will result in administrative penalties of up to €7,270 or four-week imprisonment, even if it has not (yet) caused a fire. 

The rules are currently in place for Amstetten, Baden, Gänserndorf, Hollabrunn, Horn, Korneuburg, Melk, Mistelbach, Mödling, Neunkirchen, St. Pölten, Tulln, Waidhofen an der Thaya and Wr. Neustadt. Similar ordinances are being prepared in Gmünd, Krems, and Zwettl.

READ MORE: IN PICTURES: Sahara dust covers Austria in sepia

Forest fires

The country has been particularly hit by forest fires as dry weather continues.  

In a typical March, Austria receives around 150 to 200 litres of rain per square metre, according to a report in the Kronen Zeitung. But this year, the rainfall doesn’t even come close to the seasonal average.

As a result, the dry forest floor had already been burning in Ausserfern in the district of Reutte in Tyrol near the border with Bavaria. 

Forest fires have also been reported in Carinthia, where water from firefighting efforts froze overnight, leading to an ice desert in Burgstallberg in the Spittal/Drau District.

Additionally, the water level at Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland was also below the typical seasonal levels, and groundwater levels in Carinthia, southern Styria and southern Burgenland were low for the time of year.

However, according to ZAMG, low rainfall in March and April has been typical in Austria since the 2000s.

Useful vocabulary

Wald – forest

Strafe – fine

Waldbrandverordnung – forest fire ordinance

Trockenheit – dryness

Rauchen – smoking

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SALZBURG

Will Austria really be able to vaccinate everyone who wants it by the end of June?

Earlier in 2021, Austria promised everyone who wanted a vaccine could get one by the start of July. With the deadline looming, will the goal be met?

A woman recieves a vaccine. Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)
More people want to be vaccinated as the campaign progresses, federal states in Austria report. Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP))

At the beginning of April, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) assured that all Austrians willing to vaccinate could receive their first vaccination by the end of June. 

According to research from the Austrian Press Agency (APA), the only states in Austria where this promise will definitely be kept will be in Lower Austria and Salzburg. 

READ MORE: Can Austria stick to its every adult vaccinated in 100 days target?

Although more than five million vaccine doses have now been given in Austria, more than half of the population eligible to be vaccinated has not had a first jab. 

Kurz said in April he assumed only two thirds of Austrians aged over 16 (7.5 million people), would register to receive a vaccine, leaving him with the target of vaccinating five million people before the end of July. 

Currently around 3.6 million people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. 

 

Die Impfung ist unser Ausweg aus der Pandemie & mit ihr kommen wir der Normalität Schritt für Schritt näher!

Posted by Sebastian Kurz on Thursday, April 8, 2021

Vaccine hesitancy has been decreasing in Austria according to APA research with federal states, meaning demand is still high as the rollout continues. 

Many second vaccination doses are due

In addition, the pace of first vaccinations is unlikely to significantly increase, as many second vaccinations are now due, the broadcaster ORF reports.

Last week, the pace of first vaccinations slowed to 35,000 per week, rather than 40,000 to 50,000 per week as seen earlier in May.

However, the number of vaccine dose deliveries should increase in June. In May, 500,000 vaccine doses per week were delivered to Austria, in June it should be up to 700,000 per week.

Lower Austria 

In Lower Austria, State Health Councillor Ulrike Königsberger-Ludwig told APA all people who have registered for the coronavirus vaccination will receive their first injection by the end of June. Since May 10th all age groups from 16 upwards have been able to register for a vaccine. 

Some children aged twelve could be vaccinated as early as June in Lower Austria, especially if they belong to a risk group, according to ORF

Salzburg

In Salzburg, all those who registered for a coronavirus vaccination by May 26th should have received the first jab by the end of June. Those who missed out on this deadline will be eligible from July, health officer LH-Deputy Christian Stoeckl told APA.

Since June 1st, all Salzburg residents aged twelve and over have been able to register for the vaccination, and vaccination of 12 to 20-year-olds is planned over the summer. 

Vienna

A spokesman for the Vienna City Councilor for Health Peter Hacker (SPÖ) told APA that he could not promise everyone who wanted to be vaccinated in Vienna would be able to, as new entries were constantly made in the city’s reservation platform. 

Vienna, which has the lowest vaccination rate of any federal state, plans to have vaccinated up to 60 percent of the population by the end of June. By mid-July – depending on the availability of the vaccine – 70 percent is expected and up to  80 percent in August, including children aged 12 and up.

Priority groups will continue to be vaccinated for the time being with no release of appointments for all groups planned. 

Upper Austria 

In Upper Austria, vaccinations have been open to everyone since May 29th, and there are no longer any priorities. It is currently possible to book a vaccination appointment until the week of July 19th-25th.

Health Councillor Christine Haberlander (ÖVP) said if Upper Austria were given more vaccines the state could administer up to 180,000 vaccinations per week.

Vorarlberg 

In Vorarlberg the vaccination prioritisation based on age, risk or occupational group was lifted three weeks ago. Vorarlberg says it will send all those who have registered on the platform an invitation for a vaccination appointment by the end of June.

Styria 

In Styria all people who registered with the vaccine portal before May 25th will receive an appointment before July 7th.

Any leftover doses will be given to people who have registered with the vaccine service since May 25th onwards. Appointments can only be given out once vaccines are in stock in sufficient quantities, according to the federal state. 

Burgenland

Burgenland’s Coronavirus coordination team say it will “probably not” work out that all those willing to vaccinate have received the first vaccination by the end of June as they do not think they will receive enough vaccine doses in time.

However, the team assumes everyone who is currently registered can be vaccinated by mid-July. Appointments will be given out shortly before the vaccines become available. 

Carinthia 

In Carinthia, new people are registering regularly on the vaccine portal and willingness to vaccinate is increasing to around 60 percent of the population, according to spokesman Gerd Kurath. 

He added that the waiting list is stuck at around 50,000 people due to these factors, with more wanting to be vaccinated than vaccines available.

Appointments will be planned from week to week according to age categories. In addition, many second vaccinations are now due so “unfortunately”  first vaccinations may have to wait, he said.

Tyrol 

Tyrol was unable to tell the APA  when all those willing to be vaccinated would receive their first dose. Plans in this federal state are made “from week to week”. Since Friday, May 28th, vaccination appointments will start for people in all age categories from 16 to 50-years-old. However, older people will still be prioritised. 

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