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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

Most Austrians are in favour of supporting Ukraine, calls for return of a mask mandate as Covid numbers rise, Graz approves heating allowance and more news from Austria on Thursday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
A visitor walks past removed chairs at the 'Orient Accident' restaurant at Naschmarkt market in Vienna, Austria (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Austrians are in favour of supporting Ukraine

A majority of Austrians are in favour of a unified EU line in support of Ukraine, according to a survey by the Austrian Society for European Policy.

The research showed that 29 percent of respondents said sanctions against Russia should be further tightened, while 20 percent consider the measures taken by the European Union so far to be sufficient. However, about 26 percent believe the measures are too harsh and around a quarter are unsure.

According to the survey conducted from 26 to 28 September, 30 percent of Austrians consider it “very important” and 25 percent “rather important” that the EU member states take a unified line in their support for Ukraine. For 13 percent of respondents, this is “rather not”, and for 14 percent “not at all important”. Just under a fifth did not express an opinion (18 percent).

READ ALSO: ÖBB and City of Vienna extend free train travel for Ukrainian refugees

Calls for return of mask mandate as Covid numbers grow

The rising number of Covid-positive patients and staff shortages are already causing bottlenecks in many hospitals, according to Austria’s Covid Prognosis Consortium, which expects a 52 percent increase in Covid-related hospitalisations within the next two weeks, broadcaster ORF reported.

In view of the situation in the hospitals, experts are calling for the reintroduction of compulsory masks.

Virologist Dorothee von Laer from the Medical University of Innsbruck criticised the government, saying authorities were once again “too late” to take measures. “We are now at the last push to reintroduce compulsory masks indoors so that the omicron wave from spring is not repeated,” the virologist told Austrian media.

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

Border controls with Slovakia to be extended

The border controls introduced last week with Slovakia will be extended, Austria’s Interior Ministry announced. The controls, originally supposed to end on Saturday, will now be extended by 20 days.

With this step, Austria follows its neighbouring country, the Czech Republic, which had announced that it would extend its border controls with Slovakia until 28 October.

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: One in four Austrian residents now of foreign origin

Number of people employed in trade and service sector rises

In the first half of 2022, the number of employment relationships increased by 2.1 percent year-on-year in the trade sector and by 9.3 percent in the services sector, according to Statistics Austria.

Hours worked increased in both the trade sector (+5.7 percent) and the service sector (+16.2 percent). Likewise, gross wages and salaries increased 8.0 percent in the trade sector and 15.6 percent in the services sector compared with the first half of 2021.

When making comparisons with the prior-year period, it should be noted that a large proportion of companies were affected to varying degrees by closures and other restrictions due to the measures taken against the Corona pandemic, Statistic Austria said.

READ ALSO: LATEST: What is the job market in Austria like right now?

Graz approves heating allowance of €340 euros

The Styrian Provincial Government has approved the heating cost subsidy 2022/2023 to assist low-income households with €340 support for all types of heating.

The assistance can be required by people with their primary residence in Styria since at least September 1st who do not receive housing assistance. The income limit for single persons is € 1,371 and for married couples or households, €2,057, 5min reported.

Applications can be submitted to the municipal offices, city offices or service centres and service points of the City of Graz. The subsidy campaign starts on October 1st 2022 and lasts until February 18th 2023.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: Will Austria have enough gas for this winter?

Weather

Screenshot from ZAMG

Today, Austria will have a “Golden October weather”, meteorological institute ZAMG said.

After the dissipation of local, mostly shallow fog, sunny weather will prevail. From noon onwards, a few harmless cloud fields will temporarily appear between the Bregenzerwald and the Flachgau. The wind will be light to moderate from west to northwest.

In the afternoon, temperatures will range between 18C and 24C.

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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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

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

SPÖ takes tougher stance on asylum, flu cases on the rise, heatwaves killed thousands in Europe and more news from Austria on Friday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
  • SPÖ leader takes tougher stance on asylum 

The leader of the centre-left party SPÖ, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, has taken a harder approach to asylum seekers and migration issues in Austria.

In an interview with oe24.tv on Wednesday evening, she said it was not acceptable that 60,000 people from countries like Tunisia or India “all end up in Austria”. Previously, she had defended that the number of asylum seekers per se wasn’t “decisive” and that what truly mattered and could influence was the number of people on basic care within the Austrian system.

The stand change comes after a poll earlier this week had put the SPÖ in a better position for national elections if it ran with Burgenland governor Hans Peter Doskozil instead of her. However, she dismissed the poll results, as The Local reported. Doskozil has a tougher approach towards asylum and migration and leads the Austrian province with a long border with Hungary, an entry point for many.

READ ALSO: Who will be the SPÖ candidate for the chancellery?

  • ‘Inhuman speech’: Austria’s far-right blasted for wanting to tie social benefits to German skills

Politicians in Austria criticised a far-right FPÖ leader who called for a suspension of citizenship granted to non-Europeans and for tying social benefits to proof of German skills. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Christmas lights shining in Graz

As of November 24th, 61 streets, alleys and squares in Graz will once again be illuminated in Christmas splendour, the City of Graz said. The lights have been turned on about a week later than usual and will have shorter switch-on times to save energy. 

Especially in times like these, light and warmth are more necessary than ever. So, in addition to our traditional Christmas tree on the main square, the Advent markets and the ice area, the lighting creates an atmospheric ambience in the city, said Mayor Elke Kahr.

The Christmas tree, ice area and illumination can be seen this year until January 6th, and the lighting is in operation daily from 4 pm to 10 pm. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the lights will be on until 2 am.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: A guide to the main Christmas Markets in Austria

  • More influenza infections and Covid-19 in Austria

The number of reported flu cases skyrocketed in the Alpine country last week, according to a report by MedUni Vienna. 

Epidemic levels that would constitute a flu wave have not yet been reached, reported the Center for Virology at MedUni Vienna on Thursday. However, there have been more and more cases, especially in Vienna, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Tyrol and Styria.

According to MedUni, the number of confirmed influenza detections has now risen to 70 cases, up from less than 10 in the week between October 31st and November 6th and less than 20 in the following week. However, the samples examined come from only a few selected registered doctors in all federal states. 

Austria’s Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) estimates based on the confirmed data and assumes there were almost 2,700 flu-like infections and new influenza cases last week.

Meanwhile, the wastewater monitoring system of the Tyrol has shown a “noticeable increase” in the number of people with coronaviruses in recent days, meaning unconfirmed positive Covid-19 cases could be on the rise as well.

READ ALSO: Masks against Covid and flu: What’s ahead for Austria this winter

  • Heatwave in Europe may have caused more than 20,000 ‘excess’ deaths

The intense heatwaves in European countries this summer might have led to more than 20,000 “excess” deaths, Reuters cited a World Weather Attribution report compiling official figures.

The death toll was “higher than expected”, Chloe Brimicombe, a University of Graz researcher, told Reuters. She said she considered this summer’s heatwave the most impactful since 2003. 

Almost 10 years ago, the heatwave caused more than 70,000 excess deaths in Europe and pushed countries to implement life-saving measures, including early warning systems.

READ ALSO: What is Austria’s official emergency-warning phone app and do I need it?

  • Weather

Screenshot from ZAMG  

In the country’s eastern half, exceptionally sunny weather will prevail throughout the day. However, in the west, more clouds will gather in the afternoon and, during the evening, it will start to rain in Vorarlberg. 

The snow line will remain around 1300m but will drop during the night when the rain will spread further east. The wind will be light, mainly from the west. In the afternoon, temperatures should stay between 4C and 10C.

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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