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

Find out what's going on today in Austria with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Austrian Chancellor saw “no positive impressions” from Putin meeting

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, said he could take “no positive impressions” and was “pessimistic” about an early end to the conflict in Ukraine. 

Nehammer told Austrian media he wanted to “look Putin in the eyes” to explain his brutal invasion of Ukraine was not supported by the rest of the world. 

“I raised the serious war crimes and stressed that those responsible must be held accountable. I also told President Putin in no uncertain terms that as long as people are dying in Ukraine, sanctions against Russia will remain in place and will continue to be tightened.”

READ MORE: Austria’s Nehammer ‘pessimistic’ after Putin meeting

Still no second booster for Austria 

Austria’s National Immunisation Panel (NIG) is expected on Tuesday to accept a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency that it is still too early for a second booster shot. 

The EMA announced in early April that no further vaccination recommendations would be laid down at present. 

The experts believe the protection from three doses of the vaccine to be sufficient at present. 

Several countries have begun administering fourth doses of the vaccine, including Israel, the United States and Germany. 

A similar recommendation is likely to be made in ahead of Autumn in Austria, although some states have been administering ‘off label’ vaccinations for people in specific risk groups. 

READ MORE: Which parts of Austria are already administering second boosters?

Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig tests positive for Covid

Michael Ludwig, the Mayor of the Austrian capital of Vienna, tested positive for Covid on Monday and is now in self isolation. 

“Ludwig is in isolation at home and is currently symptom-free. The infection was found in the course of a gargle test, which are carried out regularly,” a spokesperson for the Mayor told APA on Monday afternoon.

Ludwig has adopted a conservative approach to managing the virus, keeping tight rules in place while restrictions have been wound back in other parts of the country. 

Austria to discontinue ‘Ninja Tests’ after Easter break

Austria’s Ninja Pass, which monitors testing of children in schools, will be discontinued after the Easter holidays. 

In addition to monitoring testing of children in schools, the Ninja Pass was also used to allow children to enter venues for which 3G proof was required, such as restaurants and galleries. 

Under the Ninja Pass scheme, tests were carried out three times a week and recorded in the document. 

As testing will only take place once a week after the Easter break, the pass will be discontinued. 

‘Ninja tests’: What are Austria’s coronavirus sticker book tests for children?

Austria recorded nearly 40,000 asylum applications in 2021

Austria saw a 170 percent increase in asylum applications in 2021, with 39,930 recorded over the calendar year. 

In 2020, there were 14,475 applications. The highest number came at the peak of the Syrian refugee crisis, where 88,000 applications were lodged. 

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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.


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.