Today in Austria For Members

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

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
The City of Graz has turned on the Christmas Lights (© City of Graz/Fischer)

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