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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.

Man cycling in Vienna
It's going to be hot and sunny today with temperatures hitting 35 degrees. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)

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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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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