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

Mask rules relaxed, latest monkeypox rules, Vienna Pride returns and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

Employees of a supermarket use tongs to distribute FFP2 protective face masks to customers in Vienna.
Might we be able to stop wearing FFP2 masks in supermarkets in June? (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Austria “pauses” its mask mandate

As The Local reported on Tuesday, Austria’s federal government has announced a “pause” to the mandatory FFP2 masks in essential trade, such as supermarkets, and public transport from June 1st.

Masks will still need to be worn in health and care facilities and a mandate could be brought back in autumn months, the Health Minister said. 

Minister of the Constitution Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP) also said that the compulsory vaccination law would remain suspended due to the lowering numbers of Covid-19 infections in Austria.

Still, Health Minister Rauch reminded people to get the vaccine and get a booster before the autumn months, to protect against possible new variants and hospitalisation.

“We will have refresher campaigns from August to prepare for winter”, he stated.

READ MORE: Austria to ‘pause’ Covid mask mandate from June 1st

READ MORE: Austria to keep masks only in essential places from April 17th

Note: this story was updated on Tuesday morning after the federal government’s press conference on the new Covid regulations.

Nehammer cancels trip to Davos at short notice

Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) has cancelled his trip to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos at short notice. He was due to arrive in the Graubünden mountain village on Tuesday morning.

“The Federal Chancellor will remain in Austria for the next few days so that he can take care of urgent domestic political obligations,” the Federal Chancellery said today, broadcaster ORF reports.

Austria will be represented at the WEF by Finance Minister Magnus Brunner and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (both ÖVP).

Will Austria order monkeypox vaccines?

Quarantine rules and a reporting obligation for people who have had close contact with someone with monkeypox should come into effect by Tuesday morning, according to Austria’s Ministry of Health. However, no vaccine against the disease has been ordered as yet.

The United States has started to vaccinate healthcare workers against the virus with the smallpox vaccine, which also protects against monkeypox.  Britain has also placed a large order for smallpox vaccine. The Krone newspaper reports Austria will work with the European authorities to determine whether a vaccine might be suitable for use in Austria.

READ MORE: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Vienna’s LGBTIQ rainbow parade to return after pandemic

Vienna Pride will return to Vienna on June 11th, with its rainbow parade also coming back to the city’s Ring road  for the first time since the pandemic. 

Around 200,000 participants are expected to join the capital’s 26th parade. For the first time the rainbow parade will also address climate issues and will march with “Fridays For Future”. There will also be supporting programmes including guided tours in the city’s Kunsthistorisches Museum and in the Albertina, a special screening in the film museum, beach days and medical lectures. However, the Pride Village in Rathausplatz, will not return until 2023.  

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For members


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

More thunderstorms, no recession expected in Austria, Covid infections increase and more news from Austria on Thursday.

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

Covid-19 infection risk increases

Austria’s Covid traffic light commission has increased the risk rating of all federal states in Austria, with no states currently designated as “low risk”. The states of Vienna and Burgenland, both governed by the opposition SPÖ party, have now been designated orange or high risk level. However, this assessment should be treated with caution, as the commission no longer calculates the risk factor taking into account the number of tests carried out. Vienna and Burgenland test the most, and have the highest numbers of infections recorded. 

Monitoring of sewage shows the highest rate of infection is currently in Lower Austria, which remains in the yellow or medium risk zone, along with all the other federal states. 

Third night of storms in a row

For the third night in succession, violent storms hit Austria. Fire brigades were out in Upper Austria in the Steyr and Kirchdorf region and parts of the Mühlviertel. The cleanup in Carinthia continues, with the army using heavy equipment to remove rock from the Treffen am Ossiacher See and Arriach areas following mudslides. However, Tamsweg in Salzburg’s Lunga was spared from major damage to its buildings following flooding.

READ MORE: One dead, one missing in Austrian landslides

Austria unlikely to enter recession this year

Austria is not likely to enter a recession unless gas supplies from Russia stop coming into the country, the chief economist at Unicredit Bank Austria, Stefan Bruckbauer, predicts. This would not only paralyse large parts of industrial production, but would also drive up gas prices and general inflation. He told the Wiener Zeitung newspaper he does not want to rule out stagnation for the second half of the year. The Euro area is also not predicted to enter recession, according to a recent European Central Bank (ECB) survey of 29 economists. Economic experts at the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) expect GDP growth of 3.8 percent in Austria for this year and 1.9 percent for the following year.

READ MORE: What is Austria’s emergency plan if Russia cuts gas supply?

Zelensky and George Clooney to speak at  4Gamechangers Festival

The ​Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address an audience in Vienna live tonight at the 4Gamechangers Festival along with Austria’s  Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP). The performance can be seen on TV on ORF III and in ORF’s  live stream.

After Zelensky was not invited to speak in Parliament, it would be his first public live appearance in Austria since the beginning of the war.

The Hollywood star and human rights activist George Clooney is also a guest at the  4Gamechangers Festival. In the late afternoon he will speak on the future of human rights, broadcaster ORF reports. 

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

A Biedermeier house in Vienna is to be destroyed for economic reasons

A Biedermeier house in the seventh district  Vienna dating back to 1803/4 is to be destroyed under a building code called the “economic readiness for demolition”. This means if the costs of renovating a building  cannot be covered by the income from the property after renovation, it can be knocked down. The Biedermeier house together with the adjoining buildings at Kaiserstraße 25-29, forms part of an old town which  has been marked as a protection zone, and is under a monument protection law dating back to 1973.

Older buildings in Vienna have a rental cap, which means it is easier for developers to make money by destroying them and building a new larger building with more floors, which will not be subject to the rent rules. It also means there is no need to carry out costly renovations on the facade. Vienna’s Monument Protection Initiative is calling for the abolition of “economic demolition maturity” and thus an end to such promotion of demolition and new construction, broadcaster ORF reports. It warns that if this is not done, Vienna could lose most of its historic architecture. 

Charities are running out of money to help Ukrainian refugees

The charity Volkshilfe,  which issues supermarket vouchers to Ukrainian refugees, says donations have plummeted and it will no longer be able to help people buy food. Refugees currently receive six euros a day from basic services, which is not enough, charities say. Three weeks ago, Austria’s Council of Ministers decided to increase the allowance, but this has yet to be  implemented. The subsistence allowance is to be increased from 215 to 260 euros: for each refugee that would mean around two euros more per day for groceries, broadcaster ORF reports.