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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Hot weather today in Vienna and storms in Austria this weekend, parents wait for school information, no plans to tax profits of energy companies and more news from Austria on Friday.

Women by a fountain
It's going to be super hot today in Vienna. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Vienna to bake in scorching temperatures on Friday

Today (Friday) will be one of the hottest days of the year in Vienna, with temperatures predicted to soar to 37 degrees by the afternoon. During the day, clouds will form over Austria’s mountains and from midday there will be heavy showers and thunderstorms from the Silvretta to western Upper Styria. Away from the mountains it  will stay  sunny for a long time, though towards evening the chance of thunderstorms increases from Lake Constance to Upper Austria.

Over the weekend there will also be storms across much of Austria, particularly on the north side of the alps, and there will be a brisk north-east wind in the east. Temperatures will drop to between 22 and 31 degrees. 

School Covid-19 measures to be revealed on August 29th

Parents will not know what exact measures schools will take to combat Covid-19 infections in the autumn term until August 29th, when the Education Minister Martin Polaschek (ÖVP) will release guidance based on the measures taken by the Ministry of Health, the newspaper Heute reports.

As The Local has previously reported, the Austrian government has already released a four-point plan for schools the next academic year, including an “early warning system”, an advanced testing strategy, vaccination, and air purification equipment to be used in classrooms. 

READ MORE: What will the rules be for children returning to school in Austria this autumn

No plan to tax profits of high-earning energy companies 

Austria’s federal government is not planning to tax the excess profits of high-earning energy companies, although UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has accused  corporations of making “excessive” profits from the energy crisis caused by the Ukraine war and the European Parliament passed a resolution in May calling for the introduction of an excess profit tax. Finance Minister Magnus Brunner (ÖVP) has told the Wiener Zeitung newspaper that a windfall profit tax would also have affected renewable providers, broadcaster ORF reports. He believes federal states should take measures if there are unfair profits. The opposition SPÖ party continues to push for a special tax on excessively high corporate profits from energy companies. They estimate the additional income of the energy producers and suppliers at four to six billion euros.

ÖGB Trade Union Confederation calls for nationwide protests against ‘price explosion’

The Austrian Trade Union Confederation (ÖGB) is planning protests throughout Austria for September 17 – and is calling on the government to act quickly to combat inflation. 

A statement by the ÖGB states prices are “rising without end” while corporations are “reaching record profits in energy, fuel and food”. The bill would be paid by the population, and “if nothing happens now, then this will only be the beginning of the inflation wave”. That has to end now. The statement concludes: “Politicians must finally act and can no longer stand idly by and see how our lives become unaffordable.”

Few international tourists visiting Wachau region

International tourists have not returned to the wine-growing Wachau region of Austria in large numbers, broadcaster ORF reports. Although many cruise ships are now sailing along the Danube, many are only 20 percent full. Australian, American, Asian and Russian tourists have not been visiting the area since the pandemic, the broadcaster reports.

Large-scale operation because of illegal campfires on Schneeberg

According to the fire brigade, an illegal campfire led to a large-scale operation on Schneeberg in Lower Austria yesterday. The fire had spread in steep terrain. The fire brigade warns against carelessness as there was a major fire in Hirschwang last year, broadcaster ORF reports.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Company vaccinations start, water shortages, museums try to reduce power consumption and more news from Austria on Wednesday.

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

Company vaccinations start again in Vienna

The City of Vienna has written to around 144,000 companies in the city, calling for them to get their employees vaccinated against Covid-19. The letter comes from the Chamber of Commerce, the Medical Association and the Federation of Industry (IV). In companies with more than 50 people willing to be vaccinated, the doses can be administered by the company doctor, broadcaster ORF reports. 

READ MORE: Austria recommends fourth Covid vaccination for over 60s and high-risk patients

Water shortages in Austria

The hot and dry spring and summer means communities in Vorarlberg and Upper Austria are running out of water, broadcaster ORF reports. In Langen near Bregenz, the drinking water tanks are empty and the municipality is therefore appealing to the population to only use water for personal hygiene and as drinking water for people and animals. 

In Traunkirchen in Upper Austria, the population is also being called on to water their gardens with rainwater to save water due to shortages.

Classical concerts are safe with a two metre “baby elephant” distance

Keeping a two metre distance – the length of a baby elephant – should also be enough to attend concerts with wind instruments while avoiding being infected with the corona virus, a US research team working with a symphony orchestra has found. Scientists discovered that the amount of aerosols emitted by wind instruments was similar to those emitted by people speaking, broadcaster ORF reports. 

Austria’s museums try to save energy with lower temperatures and LED lighting

Vienna’s Kunsthaus will close for six months next summer in order to upgrade the air conditioning in order to make the building more climate-neutral. Many of Vienna’s museums have already switched to LED lighting to save energy. Now the temperature in the reading rooms of Vienna’s National Library is also to be lowered, from around 24 degrees in winter to 22 or 21 degrees. The MQ is planting mulberry trees and plans to install a photovoltaic system, broadcaster ORF reports. 

‘Lighthouse’ plan following power outages in Innsbruck

Following a huge power outage last week, which affected around 140,000 households in the Innsbruck area, the Deputy Mayor Johannes Anzengruber (ÖVP), has laid out a plan for future blackouts. The ten fire stations and the main fire station of the city of Innsbruck are to become “lighthouses” in acute emergencies, where people can go for information in the case of power cuts. In the blackout last week, traffic lights failed, trams stopped running and people were stuck in elevators. Almost nothing worked in the state capital for almost 45 minutes, the Krone newspaper report.

Sunday and holiday shop openings questioned once more

After so many people went to Praterstern Billa in Vienna on Monday it had to close temporarily, the Krone newspaper is taking a look at why shops in Austria, and particularly the country’s capital Vienna, remain closed on Sundays and public holidays. 

It notes the rules are quite confusing. Some bakeries are allowed to sell groceries such as butter, juices and milk on Sundays, but not all. Gas stations and corner shops are sometimes open, as are supermarkets at major train stations and shops in some places, such as the Museum’s Quarter in Vienna, but they are only allowed to sell selected goods. Some shops open without being aware of the rules. According to the municipal administration and the market office (MA 59), there were 255 violations of the Sunday opening in the first half of 2022, with fines running into several thousands of euros for repeat offences. Some shops were open although it is illegal, others were not aware of the rules. 

Vienna is unusual in that it is the only federal state that has no tourism zones, which gives shops the option of staying open on holidays and Sundays. According to the Krone, Vienna’s mayor’s office says the social partners will not agree to Sunday openings. The paper notes Richard Lugner, a building tycoon, has long called for the general opening of shops on Sundays, but  adds nothing will change in the near future.

READ MORE: Why everything in Austria is closed on Sundays – and what to do instead

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