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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Putin accuses Austria of blackmail, Austria to roll out second boosters and plenty more news on Wednesday.

A file photo of Sahara dust covering Switzerland in 2021. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
A file photo of Sahara dust covering Switzerland in 2021. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

Putin accuses Austria of blackmail 

The Russian media has told a different story after Wednesday’s meeting between Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying the Austrian leader came to Moscow to “blackmail” Russia. 

An article in Russian news outlet Pravda wrote “According to observers in the Russian capital, Karl Nehammer did not come to Russia to become a peacemaker”.

“Karl Nehammer openly tried to blackmail the Russian president by saying he would confirm to the world media that the Russians were butchers.”

The news site said Putin rejected the blackmail attempts. 

Russian news independence has been almost completely eliminated under President Putin, with news messaging subject to heavy state control. 

Austria recommends second booster for people over 80

Austria’s National Vaccination Committee (NIG) has recommended a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, but only for those deemed at risk of serious illness.

The NIG identifies risk groups as people over the age of 80 and those between the ages of 65 and 79 with a weakened immune system or existing health conditions.

Fourth Covid-19 vaccination recommended for risk groups in Austria

Vienna to go electric by 2025

As part of its goal to go carbon neutral by 2040, the City of Vienna will shift its fleet from petrol to electric. 

Starting in 2025 “at the latest”, no new petrol or diesel vehicles will be purchased by the city council. 

At present, around 125 of the 3,000 council vehicles are electric. This includes the electric MA48 waste disposal vehicles, which are completely electric. 

The project is being overseen by scientists from the Vienna University of Technology. 

Sahara dust is on its way back

Just under a month since Sahara dust swept across Austria it is making a comeback. 

From Wednesday onwards, the sky will again take on a yellow-orange hue as dust is blown over the Mediterranean and into Austrian airspace. 

The dust is expected to carry into the Easter weekend. 

Should I be worried about breathing Sahara dust? 

Generally speaking, only those with allergies and asthma should be worried about the dust. 

The fine particles can enter people’s airways and cause irritation, but this is not dangerous.

IN PICTURES: Sahara dust covers Austria in sepia

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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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