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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

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

A woman takes a selfie in front of tulips blossoming at Karlsplatz in Vienna
Spring blooms are everywhere in Vienna now - a perfect time for a holiday break. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Diesel now more expensive than petrol in Austria

Diesel is now significantly more expensive in Austria than petrol, broadcaster ORF reports. According to Austria’s Association of the Mineral Oil Industry (FVMI) there are three reasons behind the rise in prices.

People are stocking up on heating oil, which is similar in composition to diesel, in anticipation of future price rises. Diesel is more popular than petrol, especially in the transport and agriculture industries, meaning demand is higher.

In addition, Austria has to import 60 percent of its diesel, while Austria produces three times more petrol than it consumes domestically. 

Austria is mainly dependent on Germany for imports, though it also imports from Italy, Slovenia and Slovakia. Europe as a whole is also heavily dependent on Russia when it comes to diesel – both in terms of direct purchases of diesel or for the crude oil required for refining.

Normally Europe imports diesel from Russia and exports petrol to America, where fewer people run cars on diesel than in Europe. 

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexej Novak threatened last week that a shortage of diesel could become a “strongly destabilising factor” in the EU.

READ MORE: How to save money on fuel costs in Austria 

Rents due to increase 

Around 400,000 tenants in Vienna are expecting to be hit with a large increase in rent in May as the benchmark rates in the capital rise in line with inflation in April. The increases will be charged to people living in Altbau (old apartments) and Gemeindewohnungen (council flats).

The rent increase comes on top of already sky rocketing energy prices. The SPÖ and  FPÖ  opposition parties and numerous tenant organisations are calling for the rent increase to be put on hold.

However, unless a special session is called in Austria’s national council on Friday, the rent increase will go ahead automatically, the Krone newspaper reports.

READ MORE: How to navigate the Austrian rental market

Testing in schools to be scaled back

Covid testing in Austria’s schools is to be scaled back to just one PCR test a week after the Easter holidays, which end on April 18th. Schools currently test three times a week.

Mask rules are expected to stay the same – they should be worn when moving around the school but are not compulsory in classrooms. Children will be given antigen tests before the Easter holidays to test themselves over the break or before they come back to school. 

Testing to stay available on online platforms in Austria

The Alles Gurgelt (everything gargles) test system in Vienna will continue, Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) announced on Tuesday, although he said it was not clear how this will work with the changes to testing in April.

The new rules will limit the number of free tests per week which are available for people with no symptoms. All other Austrian states will continue to use their online testing systems apart from Stryia, where pharmacies will carry out the tests. In Burgenland the vaccination and test centres (BITZ) will close at the end of March. 

READ MORE: Everything that changes in Austria in April 2022

EU states to decide together on fourth Covid-19 vaccination

European states will decide collectively how to proceed with the potential fourth Covid-19 vaccination. The EU Commission will “develop a recommendation for the fourth vaccination within a very short time on the basis of scientific expertise,” according to the German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD).

He said most health ministers of other European countries agreed with this approach. 

Vienna’s City Airport Train is running again

Vienna’s City Airport Train (CAT) started running again on Tuesday after a two-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Austria expects tourism to increase, and the CAT is the fastest direct connection from the airport to the city of Vienna.

There is now a 50 percent discount on the fare for holders of Wiener Linien annual tickets or ÖBB advantage cards. There are signs that tourism is recovering, such as greater occupancy in hotels. 

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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.

READ MORE:

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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