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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

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

Chancellor of Austria Karl Nehammer speaks to the press as he arrives to attend an European Union Summit with all 27 EU leaders at The European Council Building in Brussels on December 16, 2021. - The lightning spread of Omicron in Europe and elsewhere has added a sense of urgency to an EU summit on December 16, 2021, with leaders struggling to present a united, bloc-wide approach. (Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard / various sources / AFP)
Chancellor of Austria Karl Nehammer speaks to the press as he arrives to attend an European Union Summit with all 27 EU leaders at The European Council Building in Brussels on December 16, 2021. - (Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard / various sources / AFP)

Austria opens classes for Ukrainian refugee children

Around 2,300 children and young students who have fled the war in Ukraine are already going to school in Austria, with 800 of them attending regular classes in Vienna, Der Standard reports.

The capital has opened ten new “New in Vienna” classrooms for Ukrainian children. Each can host 25 kids, and they have not yet been fully occupied. German support classes are also being offered to the new students.

Austria has seen teachers coming back from retirement to help with the task of accommodating the new kids, but the search for staff is still ongoing. The Ministry of Education has also agreed on an “unbureaucratic way” to hire educators who have fled Ukraine.

READ ALSO: How Austrian states are preparing for Ukrainian refugees

Summit marathon

Yesterday, there were meetings between EU leaders, NATO allies, and G7 members to discuss new sanctions against Russia.

Austria, neither a NATO nor a G7 member, participated in the EU summit.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) told broadcaster ORF that the EU leaders were working on becoming independent of Russian gas, but that takes time. The politicians appealed to the unity of the EU, saying that some member states who don’t need Russian gas can demand further sanctions, but not those who are dependent on the Kremlin exports.

Nehammer said that the leaders discussed other easy to further tighten sanctions looking to ultimately reach a ceasefire in Ukraine, including stopping European exports of components that are used by the Russian army.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why isn’t Austria in NATO?

Austria to start ‘strategic gas reserve’

The Austrian parliament yesterday decided to create a strategic gas reserve for the country as a direct result of the Russian war against Ukraine, ORF said.

The decision was approved by ÖVP and Greens, as well as opposition parties SPÖ and FPÖ. Only NEOS voted against the measure, stating that it would not reduce dependence on Russian gas.

Speakers from all major parties regretted the need for a gas reserve, especially after the environmental efforts to phase out gas and fossil fuels. Still, they said it was a necessary measure to ensure the security of supply for households.

READ ALSO: Can Austria reduce its dependency on Russian gas? 

Climate demonstrations

Cities in Austria are expected to host several demonstrations as part of the global climate strike this Friday. The “FridaysForFuture” demonstration should take place in Vienna’s first district, running from Stubentor via Ringstraße all the way to Praterstern, from about 1:30pm.

READ ALSO: How Vienna plans to expand its tram and park & ride systems for commuters

National Council extended access to citizenship for Nazi victims

On Wednesday, the National Council unanimously extended the right for descendants of Nazi victims to accept Austrian citizenship, according to Der Standard.

Legislators had to amend a law approved in 2019, creating the possibility for descendants of Nazi persecuted people to acquire citizenship under facilitated conditions.

At the time, however, people whose ancestors were murdered or deported by the Nazi regime were left out because of an error in the wording of the regulation. This was now corrected.

READ ALSO: How descendants of victims of Nazism can apply for Austrian citizenship

Austria won’t be playing this year’s football World Cup

After a 2-1 loss against Wales last night for the semi-finals of the World Cup qualification, the Austrian team is definitely not playing in Qatar this year. The national football squad had failed to guarantee a spot in this year’s FIFA tournament during the group stage and was playing to secure one of the few remaining spots.

Austria has qualified for seven FIFA World Cups, most recently in 1998. Its best result was third place in 1954, but football is still a popular sport in the country, and fans were hopeful.

Now, the future of the team coach Franco Foda is in question, with some media outlets saying that his days “are numbered” with very low chances of a contract renewal after it expires in less than a week.

READ ALSO: Six of the best things to do in spring in Vienna

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Covid-19 numbers on the rise, wages shrinking as cost of living increases, Finance Ministry official online communication and more news from Austria on Friday.

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

Austria’s Covid commission alerts to 70,000 daily infections soon

Austria’s commission to assess the pandemic situation, known as GECKO (Gesamtstaatliche COVID-Krisenkoordination), has alerted to rising Covid-19 numbers, Der Standard reports.

The commission believes the daily number of coronavirus infections could reach 70,000 already this summer. This is mainly because people have been travelling more than in previous years while wearing masks less often.

READ ALSO: Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Wages are shrinking and consumption is rising

Austria’s economy will grow somewhat more strongly this year than expected in March, ORF reported.

However, according to the June forecast of the economic research institutes WIFO and IHS, the outlook for the year’s second half is much gloomier.

Since inflation is higher than expected in March, gross real wages will fall by a historic 3.9 percent. However, if inflation falls, the real wages should increase significantly, about 5.3 percent, in 2023.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

Finance Ministry to contact FinanzOnline users

If Austria’s Finance Ministry contacts you, don’t worry: they will be checking everyone’s data on the FinanzOnline platform.

The goal is to have up-to-date account data so that all the announced bonuses and payments to counter the rising cost of living to be made quickly and with no issues.

The contact will happen via the FinanzOnline website and e-mail to users who allow email contact.

Of course, whenever the government or authorities announce they will reach out to people, there are always criminals looking to take advantage of it. Therefore, ensure that the message you received is from FinanzOnline and check the official website directly instead of clicking on links.

READ ALSO: When will you get your cost of living ‘bonus’ payments in Austria?

School holidays start in the east

Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland students have started their nine-week summer vacations. In the remaining Austrian states, school holidays will only begin next week.

Classes will resume on September 5th for the east and September 12th in the Western states. Austria’s ÖAMTC traffic authority expects heavy traffic jams at the beginning of the month, especially as the summer holidays have also started in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and two German federal states.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in July 2022

A break in the heatwave

The west of Austria will have a small break from the heatwave this Friday, Austria’s meteorologic central ZAMG says. A cold front arrives from the west, and maximum temperatures will be between 18C to 21C in the region, with thunderstorms.

In Vienna and Burgenland, though, maximum temperatures continue high, reaching 35C during the day.

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

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