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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Schools should stay open in the autumn, storms hit Tyrol, Orban in Vienna and more news from Austria on Friday.

Orban and Nehammer
Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban (L) attends a joint press conference with the Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in an official visit to Vienna on Thursday. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

No more widespread school closures in pandemic plan

There are no plans to switch to distance learning in schools across Austria in the variant management plan of the government, which lays out how to respond to an expected wave of infections in autumn. The chapter on schools says “comprehensive school closures are no longer an option” the Krone newspaper reports. However, individual classrooms may close in case of an outbreak. 

In the ideal or favourable scenarios, in which hospitals are not too crowded with Covid patients, rapid antigen testing in schools would be used to keep infections under control and masks and PCR tests introduced if schoolchildren came to school and then discovered they were infected. In the more serious scenario, in which a new variant brings a large wave of infections, all students, teaching and administrative staff will again carry out PCR testing once a week and children will have to wear masks outside the classroom. Vulnerable children and young people can be exempted from the school with a doctor’s certificate. Whether school events such as ski weeks, language trips or hiking days are held depends on the risk assessment at the location. In the worst case scenario, masks would be worn by school children of all ages and school trips would be cancelled. 

READ MORE: Four options: These are Austria’s autumn Covid lockdown plans

Storms in Tyrol 

Severe storms with heavy rain and hail caused problems in Tyrol on Thursday evening, and the Pass-Thurn-Straße between Tyrol and Salzburg had to be closed after mudslides. In Wattens (a district of Innsbruck-Land) there was a rock fall and in Serfaus there was a forest fire after a lightning strike. The fire brigade also had to be deployed in the Zillertal, where underpasses were flooded. Gerlosstraße (B165) had to be closed in Pinzgau, the Krone newspaper reports. 

Wiener Linien test out four day week

Vienna’s Wiener Linien, which runs the capital’s public transport network, wants to offer its employees more flexible working hours with a four-day week from autumn. The aim is to attract 900 new employees. A total of 300 employees are planned for the pilot project broadcaster ORF reports. 

Linz stops lighting up its public buildings

Linz is responding to the impending expected energy shortage by reducing the lighting in public buildings. In the future, buildings and bridges should only be illuminated until 11 p.m. in the evening, broadcaster ORF reports.

More strike misery from Lufthansa? 

More strike misery may be on the way from Lufthansa. After a strike by Lufthansa ground staff caused chaos earlier in the month, the German airline resumed normal operations on Thursday. However, now the pilots are voting on a strike which would fall at the height of the holidays. The ballot ends on Sunday, according to Marcel Gröls, chairman of collective bargaining policy at Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), speaking to the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Thursday. VC is demanding 5.5 percent more salary for 2022 and then automatic inflation compensation. In addition, the pilots are pushing for a uniform tariff structure. 

READ MORE: 

Orban visits Vienna 

A press conference of Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban took place during his visit to Vienna on Thursday. A joint conference with Serbia on the subject of migration and border protection was agreed. According to Nehammer, there are already 31,000 asylum applications in Austria this year. He said this was a challenge for Austria in addition to inflation, price increases, the energy crisis and the pandemic. 

Orban said he was the “only politician in the EU” opposed to immigration, but argued he was not racist. Nehammer criticized the EU Commission’s slowness in terms of joint gas purchasing by the EU countries. “A common energy platform would be more important than ever,” said Nehammer, so that the EU countries would not compete with each other. He called for more speed from Brussels, broadcaster ORF reports. 

READ MORE: Hungary’s Orban visits Austria after ‘race’ row

The journalist Oliver Das Gupta tweeted: “As expected: #Orban uses the stage of the Vienna Chancellery and focuses on the topic of EU sanctions against Russia and European aid for Ukraine. He apparently wants to overturn both. That is the message going out from Vienna today.”

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

SPÖ gets significant results in Burgenland elections, chancellor to participate in 'migration summit', weapons arsenal found in Tyrol and more news from Austria on Monday.

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

Burgenland municipal elections results are in

Austria’s Burgenland state had municipal elections, and the centre-left party SPÖ saw some gains, though centre-right ÖVP kept the absolute majority in the capital Eisenstadt.

Thomas Steiner (ÖVP) lost 1.9 percentage points but still holds the capital with 53.4 percent of the votes. In contracts, the SPÖ gained almost four percentage posts and elected mayors in Andau, Gattendorf, Geresdorf-Sulz, Heugraben, Horitschon, Lutzmannsburg, Oberdorf im Burgenland, Sankt Michael im Burgenland and in Unterrabnitz-Schwendgraben.

Austria has presidential elections set for this Sunday, October 9th. The country will also elect a new parliament in 2024, with incumbents ÖVO and Green plummeting on polls and seeing losses in local ballots.

READ ALSO: Austrian presidential elections: Who are the seven candidates?

Nehammer to participate in ‘migration summit’

Austria’s chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) is meeting Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and the head of the Hungarian state Viktor Orbán in Budapest to discuss migration issues as refugee numbers taking the Balkan route have increased, daily Die Presse reported.

The government leaders will talk about increasing police cooperation in border protection, combating smugglers and other joint measures to counter illegal migration flows, the Chancellery said.

READ ALSO: Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna’s economy

Police find weapons arsenal in Tyrolean flat

On Saturday, police found an arsenal of weapons in the house of a German man in Tyrol, public broadcaster ORF reported.

The authorities wanted to serve the 47-year-old man with a weapons ban notice, but he stated that he had destroyed his weapons possession card.

During a house search, the police found several weapons and 1,300 rounds of ammunition, as well as various war materials such as a Russian tank night-vision device, armour-piercing ammunition, a machete, a crossbow and brass knuckles.

In addition, a human skull was discovered. The 47-year-old said he had bought it at a flea market in Germany.

READ ALSO: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

MFG Federal Executive Gerhard Pöttler resigns from party

The MFG loses one of its central figures shortly after missing out on entry into the Tyrolean parliament.

Gerhard Pöttler, the federal secretary, federal finance officer and head of the regional group in Salzburg, wrote a letter informing of his departure from the party, the newspaper Der Standard reported.

The reason for the move was probably internal differences with other party members.

“I have come to the conclusion that some of the people in our organisation are no longer putting into practice what we promised our supporters. I can’t and don’t want to be a part of that any more,” Pöttler wrote. In his view, MFG had already become ingratiated with the existing system.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who are MFG – Austria’s vaccine-sceptic party?

Weather

Screenshot from ZAMG

In the northern regions from Salzburg eastwards to western Lower Austria and Upper Styria, clouds will continue to dominate and there will be some rain, Austria’s meteorological institute ZAMG said.

The snow line is around 1700m above sea level.

Otherwise, it will be cloudy with only a few showers and the sun will shine at times, more in the afternoon. It will be much sunnier on the southern side of the Alps. From Upper Austria eastwards moderate to brisk, in the east occasionally strong wind from west to northwest. Maximum temperatures will be betwee 11C and 19C.

If you have any questions about life in Austria, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected].

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