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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Fears over Russian oil embargo, calls to end masks in shops for Mother's Day, thunderstorms looming and more news on Wednesday.

Lightning strikes in front of the Rathaus square (Photo by SAMUEL KUBANI / AFP)
Thunderstorms and lightning are predicted to hit Vienna today. (Photo by SAMUEL KUBANI / AFP)

Fears from Austrian industries over energy embargo

The Federation of Austrian Industries (IV) has sounded the alarm over the EU’s plan to put an embargo in place on oil from Russia and fears this may lead to a gas embargo, which would have dramatic consequences, broadcaster ORF reports.

Coal and oil from Russia can be replaced by supplies from other countries, although this will drive up costs, according to the IV. However, the federation says there is no alternative to Russia for gas.

READ MORE: Austria throws support behind embargo of Russian oil

Demonstrations in Vienna have cost retail around 23 million euros in 2021

Regular demonstrations against pandemic measures in the centre of Vienna cost retail around  23 million euros in 2021, and meant that more than 300 jobs were lost according to the Vienna Chamber of Commerce (WK). 

Since the beginning of 2022 there have been 55 demonstrations. The WK is now demanding a reorganisation of the route and a better distribution of the demonstrations in the city, saying it is putting a strain on businesses.

As the demos mainly take place on public holidays and Saturdays, they also have a negative effect on tourism as well as cafes and restaurants, particularly for tourists visiting at the weekend, Markus Grießler, head of the tourism and leisure industry division at the Vienna Chamber of Commerce told broadcaster ORF.

Could mask requirement be scrapped in retail for Mother’s Day?

The Austrian Chamber of Commerce calling for an end to the requirement to wear masks in shops in time for Mother’s Day, which falls this weekend on May 8th. 

“Next Sunday offers an occasion to celebrate not only for mothers, but also for the domestic trade. And such an occasion is more than welcome after a good two years of Corona plus new uncertainties,” Rainer Trefelik, Chairman of the Federal Trade Division in the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKÖ) said in the newspaper Heute.

Thunderstorms predicted across Austria

A weather warning is in place throughout Austria for thunderstorms on Wednesday with the exception of Carinthia. Vienna is likely to be particularly affected by, especially in the districts of Baden, Wiener-Neustadt and Lilienfeld, the newspaper Heute reports.

Bread, milk and oil prices are rising sharply in Austria

The prices of bread, milk and oil have risen particularly sharply in Austria, and are expected to continue to rise, Gabriel Felbermayr, head of the Economic Research Institute (WIFO) has told broadcaster ORF. Both consumers and farmers are suffering, due to the rising prices for energy and fertilisers.

However, Minister of Agriculture Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) says Austria’s food supply is secure, saying that Austria plans to strengthen food production and self-sufficiency. According to the minister around 90 percent of staple foods are produced in Austria.

The managing director of the Austrian trade association, Rainer Will, defended rising prices in supermarkets saying at present only a fifth of the price increases were being passed on to customers.

In response to the higher prices Austria has put back plans to enforce labelling for meat, milk and eggs showing the origin of raw materials to 2023, Der Standard newspaper reports, in order to keep costs lower.

Funding of 6.5 million euros up for grabs in Vienna for climate projects 

The City of Vienna will provide 6.5 million euros this year to districts which can show great ideas to make their area more climate friendly, in the hope of emulating cities such as Paris. The funding will be made available  for three districts per year.

Online submissions are possible until June 6th. The idea must have a positive impact on the climate and the City of Vienna must be able to implement it within two years. Both individuals and groups can participate. There is more information here.

READ MORE: ‘Cool streets’: How Vienna is preparing for climate change and heatwaves

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Covid-19 numbers on the rise, wages shrinking as cost of living increases, Finance Ministry official online communication and more news from Austria on Friday.

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

Austria’s Covid commission alerts to 70,000 daily infections soon

Austria’s commission to assess the pandemic situation, known as GECKO (Gesamtstaatliche COVID-Krisenkoordination), has alerted to rising Covid-19 numbers, Der Standard reports.

The commission believes the daily number of coronavirus infections could reach 70,000 already this summer. This is mainly because people have been travelling more than in previous years while wearing masks less often.

READ ALSO: Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Wages are shrinking and consumption is rising

Austria’s economy will grow somewhat more strongly this year than expected in March, ORF reported.

However, according to the June forecast of the economic research institutes WIFO and IHS, the outlook for the year’s second half is much gloomier.

Since inflation is higher than expected in March, gross real wages will fall by a historic 3.9 percent. However, if inflation falls, the real wages should increase significantly, about 5.3 percent, in 2023.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

Finance Ministry to contact FinanzOnline users

If Austria’s Finance Ministry contacts you, don’t worry: they will be checking everyone’s data on the FinanzOnline platform.

The goal is to have up-to-date account data so that all the announced bonuses and payments to counter the rising cost of living to be made quickly and with no issues.

The contact will happen via the FinanzOnline website and e-mail to users who allow email contact.

Of course, whenever the government or authorities announce they will reach out to people, there are always criminals looking to take advantage of it. Therefore, ensure that the message you received is from FinanzOnline and check the official website directly instead of clicking on links.

READ ALSO: When will you get your cost of living ‘bonus’ payments in Austria?

School holidays start in the east

Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland students have started their nine-week summer vacations. In the remaining Austrian states, school holidays will only begin next week.

Classes will resume on September 5th for the east and September 12th in the Western states. Austria’s ÖAMTC traffic authority expects heavy traffic jams at the beginning of the month, especially as the summer holidays have also started in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and two German federal states.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in July 2022

A break in the heatwave

The west of Austria will have a small break from the heatwave this Friday, Austria’s meteorologic central ZAMG says. A cold front arrives from the west, and maximum temperatures will be between 18C to 21C in the region, with thunderstorms.

In Vienna and Burgenland, though, maximum temperatures continue high, reaching 35C during the day.

READ ALSO: Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

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