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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Inflation reaches a 40-year high in Austria and more news on Friday.

A hiker looks out over the snow covered mountains near the Ritzau alp in the Kaiser Mountains, Austria.
It's looking chilly and cloudy today in Austria (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

Inflation in Austria reaches heights not seen since the 1980s

Inflation in Austria has risen to a 40-year high of 6.8 percent, leading to opposition parties in Austria to call for more to be done to help people struggling with fuel costs and household bills. The SPÖ, FPÖ and NEOS parties have all called for further relief for the population.

Broadcaster ORF reports that in March, fuel prices rose by more than half (up 50.7 percent) compared to the previous year. Diesel rose by 55 percent and premium petrol by 45.3 percent. Housing, water and energy cost an average of 9.7 percent more.

According to a recent survey by the opinion research institute Ipsos, nine out of ten people in Austria are already feeling the effects of inflation in their daily lives, especially when shopping and filling up their cars. More than half of the 500 people surveyed plan to cut back on non-essential purchases in the near future.

Inflation is likely to remain high in the coming months. According to a forecast by the Economic Research Institute (WIFO), consumer prices  could rise by up to seven percent this year due to the hike in energy prices.

In Vienna around 1,350 refugees are living in private homes

While more than a thousand Ukrainian refugees have been placed in private homes belonging to people in Vienna, according to the charity Diakonie.

Maria Katharina Moser, director of Diakonie, told the Wien Heute (Vienna Today) programme, that there were still  800 displaced people looking for an apartment in the city, some with complex needs such as a family member with a disability.

READ MORE: How Austria and Austrians are helping Ukrainian refugees

Should compulsory vaccination just be for health workers and at risk groups?

The head of Austria’s Bioethics Commission, Christiane Druml, wants to re-think the county’s compulsory vaccination policy. In an interview in the Kurier newspaper, Druml has advised the compulsory vaccination should apply to groups such as health professionals, people over 60 and high-risk patients of all ages.

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

Austria has donated more than five million Covid-19 vaccines

Austria has donated a total of 5,428,020 doses of Covid-19 vaccines. The largest recipient was Bangladesh, which received just over 1.25 million doses of AstraZeneca in two tranches. One million went to Iran, and 345,000 to Ghana, broadcaster ORF reports. 

Anger as many miss out on cheap holiday childcare

Thousands of parents have been left frustrated after trying to register for the city of Vienna’s summer holiday camps. The Ferien in Wien summer camp website continuously crashed when parents tried to register their children, phone calls went unanswered and payment for the places was impossible. 

Mario Rieder, managing director of the company “Bildung im Zentrum” said he took responsibility and apologised for the failings, broadcaster ORF reports. Parents are calling for a return to analogue registration in view of the IT problems they have experienced.

Vienna’s Deputy Mayor Christoph Wiederkehr (NEOS) said in a written statement that the city had managed to increase the number of childcare places from 20,000 to 24,000, which meant around  10% of Viennese school children could take part in the Summer City Camps. He said it was not possible for the city to bridge the holidays for all children.

The camps, which are run by the City of Vienna, cost just 50 euros per child per week, dropping to 25 euros for siblings.

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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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