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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A roundup of today’s news on Wednesday

Family allowance is paid out, Tyrol ÖVP states support for Chancellor Nehammer, bankruptcies rise and more news from Austria on Wednesday.

People eating outside
It's going to be sunny today, enjoy! (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Special family allowance payouts start from today

Families around Austria will start getting their special family allowance payment of 180 euros per child from today (Wednesday). According to Family Minister Susanne Raab (ÖVP)  the tax offices will be instructed from Wednesday to transfer the 180 euros per child “directly to the account” of the recipient of family allowances. The payment will happen automatically, with the money coming into the account along with the normal family allowance, where it will appear on the account statement as a special family allowance. The federal government will spend around 340 million euros on this allowance, which will benefit around 1.8 million children in 1.1 million families, as The Local reported yesterday.

READ MORE: When will you get your cost of living payment bonuses in Austria?

Hairdresser ban for unvaccinated was ‘unconstitutional’, court rules

The Constitutional Court (VfGH) has found a regulation which stopped people using hairdressers in the second lockdown for the unvaccinated was unconstitutional and therefore illegal. However, the Court of Justice did confirm it was admissible to distinguish  between people with and without 2-G evidence (proof they had recovered from or been vaccinated against Covid-19) meaning the lockdown for the unvaccinated was itself legal. 

As there were exceptions to the lockdown, allowing people without vaccinations to leave their homes to “cover the necessary basic needs of daily life”, this should have included trips to the hairdressers as part of these “basic needs”, the court ruled.

It was also illegal for the government to ban unvaccinated people from entering cultural institutions in autumn 2021, according to the Constitutional Court. In this case the reason was that people were still allowed to go to church and other places of religion, which the court found was “in violation of equality”.

The ban on entering sports facilities ordered by the Minister of Health during the first lockdown in March and April 2020 was also found to be unlawful by the court, as there was not sufficient justification, broadcaster ORF reports.

As Tyrol election campaign continues, ÖVP stresses support for Nehammer

Following headlines in the Austrian press in which it was speculated the Chancellor Karl Nehammer might soon be replaced by the ÖVP party which he leads, the Tyrol branch of the ÖVP has told the Austrian Press Agency (APA) that Nehammer is “always welcome in Tyrol.” The Chancellor will go to the European Forum Alpbach at the end of August, and visits to Tyrol as part of federal state days are also planned. A spokeswoman for the state party said it was  “continuously in coordination” with the Chancellor’s office, broadcaster ORF reports. 

However, Der Standard reports the polls in Tyrol when the election is held at the end of September will be the first major test for Nehammer’s chancellorship. It reports that if the ÖVP falls below 30 percent, as predicted, it will mean trouble for the federal government. The paper quotes an official saying that “some are dissatisfied, but really nobody said Nehammer had to go.” However, the newspaper also reports there are “long complaints” about advisors, strategists and communications within the ÖVP party. Officials compare Nehammer’s relationship with the press unfavourably with former leader Sebastian Kurz, who seemed to be able to control the tabloid press with a constant supply of good stories. 

Rising prices: More bankruptcies again

The number of corporate bankruptcies in Austria  is rising sharply. There were 850 in the first half of the year in Vienna – twice as many as in the previous year. During the first years of the pandemic, the number was significantly lower, but now the Covid-19 state aid is running out and  prices are rising.

One victim of the price rises is Christian Becker’s “Local” music venue and restaurant in the Stadtbahn arches of Vienna. The restaurant had to close at the end of July and the restaurateur filed for bankruptcy on Friday with the commercial court, Wien Heute reports. The number of concerts he was able to put on had fallen dramatically. Before the pandemic there were 250 events per year. In July 2022, there were only six. 

Spar reduces lighting in 800 branches to save electricity

In around 800 branches of Spar, Eurospar, Interspar and Maximarkt in Austria, the lights will be switched off much earlier with immediate effect. Advertising and outdoor lighting will only be lit for a short time before and after the shop opens. Previously the lights stayed on from 6 a.m. to up to 10 p.m. By saving on lighting, the Spar Group hopes not only to make a contribution to energy security, but also to achieve a considerable reduction in electricity consumption, especially in winter. According to the company management, around one million kilowatt hours of potential savings are to be realized every year. This corresponds to the annual electricity consumption of 250 households, the newspaper Heute reports.

READ MORE: Colder schools, fewer street lights: Austria prepares for a gas shortage

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Russia's Gazprom again fails to deliver gas through Austria, government to announce pension adjustments, Covid numbers rising and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

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

Russia’s Gazprom again won’t deliver gas via Austria

On Saturday, Gazprom suspended gas deliveries to Italy’s Eni, blaming an issue with Austria, as The Local reported.

Austria’s energy regulator said the issue concerned new rules for balance between imports and exports but didn’t have details on the specific Gazprom-Eni contracts. Still, it said the new regulations were presented to the market players “months in advance”.

This Tuesday, Gazprom informed the Italian energy group that it could not confirm the gas supply. Again due to the inability to dispatch gas through Austria.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: How reliant is Austria on Russia for energy?

Austrian gas storage facilities are 80 percent full

The gas storage facilities in Austria are now a good 80 percent complete, Austrian media reported.

However, the domestic suppliers, international traders and local industrial companies have paid many times more for the gas stored as a precaution in preparation for the cold season than in 2021.

Households in Austria have already been informed about the additional costs, or they will probably soon receive mail from their supplier. A five- to six-fold increase in the monthly bill is not uncommon, Der Standard said.

Austria’s federal government agrees on pension adjustment

The governing parties ÖVP and Greens have reached an agreement on the adjustment of pensions for 2023, Austrian media reported. The details will be announced this Tuesday by Social Affairs Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) and ÖVP parliamentary party leader August Wöginger.

According to broadcaster ORF, the incomes of about 200,000 pensioners should be increased by about ten percent. For the other pensioners, there will be a socially graduated increase.

READ ALSO: Over half of Austrians on financially shaky ground: survey

Covid numbers on the rise

The number of positive Covid tests and hospital admissions due to the disease has been increasing in Austria for weeks, while progress in the fourth vaccination is stalling, the newspaper Die Presse reported.

However, the good news is that there is no sign of a new, more dangerous variant which could again increase the cases of severe courses of Covid-19, the report added.

Nevertheless, the situation now concerns doctors, and health authorities don’t rule out the return of measures such as an FFP2 mask mandate indoors in the coming months.

READ ALSO: Could Austria be spared another wave of Covid this winter?

Weather

Screenshot from ZAMG

In the southwest, sunshine will predominate after the local fog has dissipated, Austria’s meteorologic institute ZAMG said.

In the rest of Austria, there will still be some cloud fields. Isolated rain showers are most likely in the Weinviertel.

In the afternoon, the clouds will decrease and the sun will again return. The clouds will last the longest in the northeast. The daily high temperature will reach 15 to 21 degrees.

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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