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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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.

Blooming apricot trees in a garden in the village of Bacharnsdorf,
Austria is set for a record-breaking tree blooming season. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Austria’s Finance Minister rejects Russian gas embargo

Austria’s Finance Minister has said he rejects an immediate embargo on Russian energy, despite the atrocities in Bucha carried out in the war against Ukraine. Magnus Brunner (ÖVP) made the statement before a meeting of the Eurogroup in Luxembourg on Monday. 

Brunner said Austria, like Germany, is heavily dependent on Russian gas. While the medium-term goal is to become more independent it would be “unrealistic” to make the switch overnight. 

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) has also spoken out in the Ö1-Mittagsjournal against an embargo on Russian gas, saying sanctions would hit the wrong people. 

Other sanctions are expected. 

Covid-19 infections are falling in Austria

The Covid-19 infection numbers in Vienna are finally falling, according to the city’s councillor Peter Hacker, and he expects them decrease significantly by the end of April, he told the Vienna Today programme.

The statistician Erich Neuwirth also sees signs for optimism across Austria, noting the positive rate of the tests has fallen. This indicates dropping case numbers are not just due to the new restrictions on testing, the Krone reports.

Complexity researcher  Peter Klimek says that due to more than 2.6 million Covid-19 cases in Austria, many are now immune. He also says seasonality plays a role in the improved numbers. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Austria’s new Covid-19 testing rules

Blossom and fruit expected to survive April cold snap

Farmers tending apricot trees in the Wachau had to light special ovens in the orchards at the weekend to protect blossom which came into bloom in March due to the warm temperatures. Across Austria temperatures fell below freezing over the weekend and on Monday night.

However, the Chamber of Agriculture of Lower Austria told the Austrian Press Agency that no major damage had been done, the Krone newspaper reports.  Warmer weather should be on the way by Wednesday.

Catchup swimming lessons offered in Vienna to schoolchildren

Vienna is offering 10-day intensive swimming courses to all children in the 3rd grade and up who missed out on swimming lessons due to lockdown for just 25 euros this summer.

Those on low incomes will not have to pay. Registration will be available in May and can be done either at the pool or online here.

The courses will take place at the following locations

Monday to Friday, at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.:

  • July 4th to 15th: Simmering and Döbling indoor swimming pools
  • July 18th to 29th: indoor swimming pools in Hietzing and Großfeldsiedlung
  • August 1st to 12th: indoor swimming pools in Hietzing and Großfeldsiedlung
  • 15 to 26 August: Floridsdorf and Donaustadt indoor swimming pools

In addition, children of school age will be able to go swimming for free six times at indoor and outdoor pools from the beginning of July to the end of September 2022 with an accompanying adult.

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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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