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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.

A horse and carriage in Vienna
It's going to be sunny and warm today. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Changes to rules for Covid ‘contact persons’

As of March 21st, all contact persons without full Coronavirus immune protection no longer have to quarantine in Austria.

Instead, “traffic restrictions” now apply to those affected which will require masks to be worn at all times when in contact with others, including outdoors, while visits to facilities where this is not possible, such as restaurants, or fitness clubs, is prohibited.

A further easing is also planned mid-week, with quarantine regulations for employees expected to be lifted by Health Minister Johannes Rauch.

The Austrian Health and Nursing Association (ÖGKV) has sharply criticised the planned easing of quarantine citing concerns about forcing staff to work when “half-recovered”.

More information about Austria’s changed Covid rules can be seen at the following link. 

Covid-19: What to do if you test positive in Austria

President Van der Bellen appeals to EU to ditch Russian gas

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen has appealed to the EU to remain united in its independence from Russian gas and after a meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo during his state visit to Brussels on Monday.

According to Van der Bellen, there are no signs of a total oil or gas embargo by the European Union because of the reliance on long-term contracts. “We have failed to diversify our energy supply – in gas it is obvious,” he concluded. 

State kindergarten staff in protests over pay, staff and training

State kindergarten employees demonstrated for more staff, more money and more training across Austria on Monday.  The kindergartens continued to operate in emergency mode despite the demonstrations. In Vienna, around 250 people gathered in front of the Ministry of Education.

There were also demonstrations in other federal states – around 150 people came in Linz, around 100 in Salzburg and around 50 in St. Pölten and in Bregenz. 

Deportation of child ‘unlawful’, court rules

The deportation of a twelve-year-old girl known as Tina, her little sister and her mother to Georgia in January 2021 has been found to be unlawful according to Austria’s Federal Administrative Court (BVwG). The deportation, which caused controversy at the time, was “disproportionate”, the court decided.

Tina had never lived in Georgia before, was unable to read and write in the alphabet used in the country, and was doing very well in her school in Vienna, the Kronen Zeitung newspaper reports. The asylum office is expected to appeal the judgement. 

Greens want Fiaker horses to take breaks when temperatures hit 30

The Green party is calling for Austria’s Fiaker horses, which pull Vienna’s distinctive carriages around the First District of the capital, to be banned from working once temperatures hit 30 degrees. At the moment, the upper limit is 35 degrees. However, this is measured at a weather station, which may record lower temperatures than the central areas of Vienna such as Stephansplatz or Michaelerplatz.

According to the Kronen Zeitung newspaper the city councilor Jürgen Czernohorszky says the rules are in place to protect the drivers rather than the animals. Setting the temperature limit to 30 degrees would have a knock on effect on other professions. He told the newspaper it was a matter which the animal welfare minister Johannes Rauch needed to address.

New cycle paths for Vienna

Vienna has unveiled plans to create more than 17 kilometers of new or improved cycling infrastructure in 44 projects. This includes new cycle lanes in:

  • Lassallestraße
  • Krottenbachstraße
  • Alberner Hafen
  • At the Heiligenstädter Bridge
  • Improvements to a section of the Wientalradweg between Winckelmannstraße and Anschützgasse.

Pharmacies to continue Covid-19 tests in Styria

Styria has decided to carry on making Covid-19 PCR and antigen tests available in its pharmacies, broadcaster ORF reports. Up to five antigen and PCR tests will be available a month from April. 

READ MORE: Free tests to be limited in Austria from April 

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For members


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

First monkeypox case found in Austria, Van der Bellen to run again, millions of Russian assets frozen, and more news on Monday

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

First case of monkeypox in Vienna

The first case of monkeypox has reached Vienna. A 35-year-old man is being treated in an isolation ward in a clinic in the Favoriten district after developing typical symptoms of the disease: a slight fever and pustules. Contact tracing is already underway, broadcaster ORF reports. Experts are unsure why the disease, which is normally only occurs in Africa, is spreading throughout Europe.

READ MORE: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Alexander Van der Bellen to run for President again 

Austria’s President Van der Bellen has announced on Twitter that he will stand once again for the President of Austria. This was expected last week, when a TikTok video was released showing footage of the President which played The Clash song, “Should I stay or should I go?”.

The Greens, liberal NEOS and left wing SPÖ parties have all welcomed the decision, but the far right FPÖ party has announced it plans to put up a rival candidate, broadcaster ORF reports. The FPÖ’s leader, Herbert Kickl, criticised Van der Bellen for his support of the Covid policy in Austria and for “weakening Austria’s neutrality”, the broadcaster reports.

EXPLAINED: How does Austria’s presidential election work?

Russian assets worth millions of euros frozen in Austria

Around 254 million euros in Russian assets have been frozen in a total of 97 accounts in Austria as part of  EU sanctions, the Federal Chancellery announced on Sunday. Broadcaster ORF reports this is twice as much as Germany has managed. A task force led by the Directorate for State Security and Intelligence (DSN) in the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for investigating the assets. The investigators also managed to locate five land register entries that were supposed to have served to conceal assets.

Villa in Attersee occupied by squatters

Anarchist squatters gained access to a villa believed to be owned by a Russian oligarch villa in Burgau am Attersee in the municipality of St. Gilgen on Saturday The squatters demanded sanctions from the Russian owner Igor Shuvalov, who , according to media reports, is said to have vacated the villa in March. The squatters have since left the building.

Austria’s former foreign minister could face sanctions soon

UPDATE: Austrian ex-minister who danced with Putin quits Russian oil company Rosneft

On Monday morning, the EU Commission announced Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissl could face EU sanctions for failing to resign from her job with Russian oil giant Rosnef.

Later on Monday, Kneissl announced her resignation – although it is unclear what impact this will have on the sanctions process. 

Austrian media reports the rule includes an annual salary of 515,000 euros. The EU Commission could include her on the sanctions list, which could soon mean her assets are frozen and her bank accounts are blocked. 

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has left his position with the firm after sanctions were threatened. 

Note: this story was updated on Monday afternoon after Kneissl quit her board position at Russian oil giant Rosneft.

Vienna’s Uno City promised 30 million euro refurb

Vienna’s UNO City, which is home to the city’s international organisations and its 5,000 workers, has been promised a 30 million euro refurb by the Republic of Austria, which owns the high rise buildings. The  office towers in the Donaustadt are more than 40 years old and urgently need renovation. The total costs could end up being ten times higher than the 30 million euros promised so far. for the first phase. Broadcaster ORF reports the buildings no longer comply with building and fire regulations.