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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Despite falling Covid-19 cases, Austria will not relax mask rules as school starts up again and more news on Tuesday.

People walk past Saint Stephen's cathedral displaying a 'Stop War' banner on a rainy day in Vienna, Austria in 2022.
It's going to be gloomy and rainy today in Austria. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Covid rules remain in place in schools and universities 

As The Local reported on Monday, despite the easing of coronavirus rules in many areas in Austria, rules on masks in schools and universities will remain in place for the time being.

However, there will be other changes. From this week only one PCR test per week will be carried out in schools. The “Ninja Pass” which recorded negative tests in schools has also been retired. Previously it was used by children to access leisure and sports activities.

READ MORE: 

Austrians could end up paying billions more in tax due to high inflation

The liberal economic think tank Agenda Austria has released calculations which show Austrians could end up paying billions in extra tax this year due to high inflation. People in Austria are currently suffering from rising prices for food, electricity and petrol due to high inflation.

However, the rise in prices will bring the state billions of additional revenue from value-added tax, wage tax and income tax.

Agenda Austria modelled several scenarios, finding the national budget for Austria could be boosted by between 7.5 and 11 billion euros this year and next year – the equivalent of a major tax reform.

Medical Association President speaks out against compulsory vaccination 

The new President of the Tyrolean Medical Association, Stefan Kastner, has spoken out against reintroducing compulsory coronavirus vaccinations, broadcaster ORF reports. He said mandatory vaccination would only be necessary in the case of a new variant of the disease.

In the interview with APA he also said that Austria’s quarantine rules were no longer necessary, and suggested people with symptoms might be relied upon to self-quarantine.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

NEOS calls once more for President Zelensky to address Parliament

The Austrian opposition party NEOS have made a renewed attempt to get the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to address the Austrian parliament, with the party stating it was now needed “more than ever” after the discovery of war crimes in Bucha, broadcaster ORF reports. Previous attempts for an address have failed as the opposition FPÖ party would not agree to it.

READ MORE: Why Austria won’t allow Ukraine’s Zelensky to speak before Parliament

Call for public beaches at Lake Attersee to be protected

The Green party has applied to Austria’s Parliament for the state to take over current public swimming areas at Attersee Lake. Austria’s Green Party fears that the free access to the lake will be lost if further lakeside beaches are leased to private bidders.

Broadcaster ORF reports only 13 percent of the lake shore is  now accessible to the public and the rest is privately owned. The state councillor Markus Achleitner (ÖVP) says that the state is in close coordination with the federal forests in order to preserve the free public lakeside areas for the general public and to expand them again.

The Venus of Willendorf is no longer believed to be a sex symbol

Austria’s Stone Age eleven centimetre-tall statue, known as the Venus of Willendorf, is no longer believed to be a sex symbol, according to history experts.

The 25,000-year-old statue, which is on display at Vienna’s Natural History Museum, was previously believed to be a fertility or sex symbol.

However, the most recent interpretation is that she represents a wise old grandmother, broadcaster ORF reports.  

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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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