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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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