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WHAT CHANGES IN AUSTRIA

Everything that changes in Austria in May 2022

From the return of the oral Matura exam to pool season, here are some of the most important changes you need to be aware of in Austria in May.

Everything that changes in Austria in May 2022
Even though the Danube sure is a busy spot in the warm months in Vienna, the lovely little houses along its waterfront seem to freeze in time. (Photo by Matias Tapia on Unsplash)

May Day

Austria will celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1st.

But Tag der Arbeit or Der Erste Mai, as the day is known in German, won’t result in a day off work for most people because it falls on a Sunday this year. Schade. 

Oral exams return for the Matura

The spoken part of Austria’s Matura exam will return for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Matura, officially called Reifeprufung, is a compulsory exam for secondary school leavers in Austria. It is a prerequisite for higher education such as universities, academies, technical universities and colleges.

The exam consists of written and oral exams (Mündliche Prüfungen), but in 2020 and 2021, the oral part was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

However, the return of the spoken exams is causing protests among Austrian students who say their high school years were hurt by the pandemic and they shouldn’t have to take oral examinations.

READ ALSO: What is Austria’s Matura exam, and why do some want it abolished?

The outdoor pool season is back

Austria’s public outdoor pools are back in business, and residents will be able to enjoy the sun and swim around as of May 2nd. In addition, for the first time in two years, the Bäder visitors won’t have to follow any coronavirus restrictions.

In other years, access to the pools has been restricted, with the vaccination requirements, people had to wear masks, and some Austrian public pools were even closed during the worst pandemic months.

In the capital Vienna, people will have the opportunity to visit some new and improved areas in some of the city’s public pools. So, time to bring the swimming gear up from the Keller.

READ ALSO: Six of the best things to do in spring in Vienna

Austria to reevaluate the Covid-19 vaccination mandate

The country’s vaccination committee is meeting again this May to report back to the government on the mandatory vaccination law.

The controversial regulation mandating a Covid-19 vaccine to all adult residents was suspended in March, just days before a new state was set to start, one that would have unvaccinated people receive fines at random checks.

The suspension came just as support for the law dwindled; other countries failed to institute similar measures. The official reason for halting the action was that the “burden on fundamental rights” was no longer necessary as the omicron wave of the coronavirus resulted in fewer severe cases.

That will be discussed again as the country faces the possibility of a new Covid wave in autumn, just as the immunisation brought by vaccines or infection goes down.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s plans to bring back the vaccine mandate?

Two holidays await Austrians… sort of

While there may be no May Day holiday, there are a couple of breaks coming up. 

On Thursday, May 26th, the country will have an official holiday that celebrates Jesus’ ascent into heaven, the aptly named Christi Himmelfahrt.

Of course, not every Christian holiday is an official day off in Austria (i.e. Good Friday), but prepare to do your grocery shopping ahead because most stores and supermarkets will be closed on May 26th.

READ ALSO: Why everything in Austria is closed on Sundays and holidays – and what to do instead

Final days to apply for some hardship funds, and more money for pensioners

Although most pandemic support for art and culture finished at the end of March 2022, it is still possible for people to make applications for hardship funds for artists until May 2nd.

The State Secretary announced that 155.9 million euros had been paid out through the bridging fund for artists alone, enabling 10,005 people to be supported. Only 3.6 per cent of the applications made were rejected, broadcaster ORF reports.

After payroll and income tax changes, pensioners should receive more money from May, Heute reported.

In May, it is also expected that the federal government will introduce several measures to ease the increasing cost of living, including one-off bonuses and tax breaks.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why are fuel prices increasing faster in Austria than elsewhere in the EU?

Grande news for Tyroleans as first Starbucks opens in the state

After 20 years in Austria, the major US coffee chain Starbucks is opening up a store in the country’s West, more precisely in Tirol, by the end of May.

As a country with a strong coffee-drinking tradition and great pride in its old and classic coffee houses, Austria does not have many large chain stores.

The history of Starbucks in Austria is particularly controversial: the first shop that the mammoth brand opened, in the prestigious Kärtnerstrasse in Vienna, closed on short notice in 2015.

The Seattle-based company is only present in Vienna and Salzburg. It will now brew up in Innsbruck, where its 19th Austrian store will be inaugurated. When it first came to Austria in 2001, it had promised 60 coffee houses would be set up in the country within five years.

READ ALSO: Caffeine, war and Freud: A history of Vienna’s iconic coffee houses

ÖVP party congress to take place

The ÖVP-tag, when chancellor Karl Nehammer will be officially appointed as the party leader, will take place on May 14th.

The event this year is particularly relevant as it will be the first public political appearance of former chancellor Sebastian Kurz since his resignation and retirement from politics after allegations of corruption in 2021.

On his social media, Kurz thanked the party for the invitation and confirmed his presence at the event but denied all speculation that he was considering a return to public life. “I can rule this out 100 per cent. My future is in the private sector”, he said.

READ ALSO: What’s going on with Austrian politics?

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WHAT CHANGES IN AUSTRIA

Everything that changes in Austria in July 2022

From travel issues and the end of the mandatory vaccination law, here are some of the most important changes you need to be aware of in Austria in July.

Everything that changes in Austria in July 2022

A summer with travel chaos

Austrian airlines and airports have tried reassuring travellers that the country has enough workers on the ground to keep travel running smoothly. However, sector representatives also warned they couldn’t influence what happens abroad.

Budget airlines have already announced strikes in locations including Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal, as The Local reported. German airline Lufthansa has also cancelled more than 3,000 flights during the summer holidays at the hubs of Frankfurt and Munich.

READ ALSO: Strikes and queues: How airline passengers in Europe face summer travel chaos

But it’s not just air travel that has been affected by growing tourism and a shortage of personnel, among other factors.

The increased demand for train travel has also caused people to be “bumped” from overcrowded trains in Austria. Holidays are also the time when car traffic becomes more intense, with expected heavy traffic as summer vacations arrive.

READ ALSO:

Covid-19 mandatory vaccination law to be abolished

Austria will cancel its mandatory Covid-19 vaccination law, as The Local reported. The announcement was made in June, but a motion to formally abolish the controversial law should pass in parliament early in July.

The rule allowed police to check people’s vaccination status and issue fines to those that could not show a valid “green pass”, indicating they had all necessary vaccines or had recently recovered from the disease. It was suspended in March before any checks or fines were issued.

The federal government said the new, “milder” variants did not justify the strict regulation. They also acknowledged that the mandate didn’t incentivise people to get the jab.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

End of the failed ‘Kaufhaus Österreich’ project

The “Kaufhaus Österreich” project launched in 2020 under the former Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck (ÖVP) is to be brought to an end on July 1st.

It was initially intended as an online retailer directory designed to bring online sales to local businesses when shops were closed during the pandemic. Then the page was changed into an information platform for traders.

The Digital State Secretariat estimated the cost of the failed project at almost €950,000, Der Standard newspaper reports.

School’s out!

The school summer vacations start in July and last until early or mid-September, depending on the state.

In Burgenland, Lower Austria, and Vienna, the holidays start on July 2nd. The remaining states start a week later, on July 9th.

READ ALSO: The best Austrian wineries to visit this summer

There are no national bank holidays during July in Austria.

Festivals and events

Summer is full of events and with Covid restrictions lifted, Austria is ready to host some of its largest festivals again. 

In July, people can look forward to River Days and Mid Europe Music Festival in Styria, the Wetterleuchten Festival in Innsbruck, several open-air cinemas and Vienna’s Rathaus culture and culinary festival, among others.

READ ALSO: The best festivals and events to enjoy in Austria this summer

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