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Today in Austria For Members

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

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Overall view shows the village of Semmering and the artificially snowed practice area of the Ski school in the wintersport resort Zauberberg im Semmering, Lower Austria, on January 08, 2023. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

AMS head sees reducing hours as 'no solution' for labour shortage, Austrian teachers want an end to homeschooling, February had mild and dry winter and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

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  • AMS head sees reducing hours as 'no solution' for labour shortage

Given the prevailing labour shortage, the head of the Public Employment Service Austria (AMS), Johannes Kopf, currently thinks that a general reduction in working hours would not be a solution, he said Monday evening on ZIB2.

He said the situation is different than it used to be; today, there are "altogether too few people" in the labour market. The unemployment rate is the lowest in 15 years - and will continue to fall next year, Kopf added.

In some sectors - IT or services - shorter working hours would be conceivable. They could also "individually" help individual companies to find new employees more easily with more attractive models. But the "overall answer" cannot be to reduce working hours when there is a labour shortage in many areas, Kopf said.

READ ALSO: Is Austria planning to adopt a 4-day week?

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  • Nine unmissable events in Austria in March 2023

From food and wine events to live music and a course on climate change, here are the top events taking place across Austria in March.

  • Austrian teachers want an end to homeschooling

In Austria, 4,000 children will be home-schooled this year, a number that is dropping since it reached a peak during the Covid pandemic in 2021 when 7,500 children left schools. However, as many home-schooled children have failed their national standardised exams (or have not taken them at all) and were forced to repeat the year at a public school, teachers demand an end to the legislation.

In Austria, parents can teach their children at home because there is no compulsory schooling - only compulsory education. Children can also attend private schools, but reports of illegal private schools are increasing nationwide, according to the newspaper Der Standard.

Teacher union representatives argue that if any parent or legal guardian without any pedagogical training could fulfil the home-school requirements for training, that would have consequences for teacher training programs, particularly at a time when schools are short-staffed.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Is homeschooling legal in Austria?

  • Last day of mandatory masks in Viennese public transport

The mask obligation in the public means of transport in Vienna is history starting from tomorrow, March 1st. Vienna has until recently imposed stricter rules than the federal government to prevent the spread of the virus as far as possible, but Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) said he would not extend the provisions asking for the masks any further. 

Of course, people may still wear masks if they want, according to the City Hall. 

The PCR testing obligation for Vienna visitors and hospital staff will also be abolished. Until now, they had to undergo regular testing. 

However, the mask remains mandatory for visitors, just as it does for doctors. In addition to hospitals, the mask requirement applies to doctors' offices and inpatient care facilities. These are federal rules and should fall on April 30th only.

READ ALSO: Vienna to drop Covid face mask mandate by the end of February

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  • February had mild and dry winter in Austria

According to GeoSphere Austria, this winter has been very mild and far too dry in the country.  In the Austrian lowlands, it was the sixth warmest in the 256-year history of measurements. On February 18th, Innsbruck set a new February record for Tyrol with 21.7C.

Snowfall and rainfall were above average this winter. In Vorarlberg, North Tyrol and Salzburg, precipitation was 15 to 45 percent lower than the long-term average, the meteorological institute said.

Due to the low snowfall, there were around 60 percent fewer snow cover days and 75 percent less new snow in North Tyrol in valley locations and at altitudes up to 1,000 m above sea level. Above this altitude, snow cover days were only about ten percent lower on average.

The winter of 2022/23 was 1.6C above the average of 1991 to 2020 in the lowlands and 1.2C in the mountains, according to Alexander Orlik, a climatologist at Geosphere Austria, on the Austria-wide evaluation. Compared to the period 1961 to 1990, which was not yet so strongly affected by climate warming, this year's winter was 2.8C above average in the lowlands and 2.3C in the mountains.

READ ALSO: Avalanches in Austria: What you should know to stay safe in the mountains

  • Investigations against Kickl after speech against VdB

The far-right FPÖ party leader Herbert Kickl is being investigated for "insulting the honour" after his inflamed speech last Wednesday, Der Standard reported. During a party event speech, he called President Van der Bellen a "mummy" and "senile".

The Ried city's public prosecutor's office has now received the report of officials from the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism who were present at the event and are aware of the speech's content, spokesman Alois Ebner confirmed to media reports on Monday.

Preliminary proceedings are now underway for insult. First, the public prosecutor's office will send a letter to the Federal President asking whether he will authorise prosecution in the case. If this is the case, the investigation will be pursued; otherwise, the proceedings will be discontinued, Ebner said.

READ ALSO: Can the Austrian president refuse to appoint a far-right chancellor?

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