Austria

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Austria to start Covid-19 mass testing on Dec 2
The Karl-Marx Halle in Vienna, Austria – one of the three major testing locations
The Karl-Marx Halle in Vienna, Austria – one of the three major testing locations Credit: Gugerell, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped) (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

The Austrian government has announced that it will start mass testing its population on December 2, starting with the capital Vienna, followed by six other states. In Vienna, a total of 1.2 million tests will be provided at three major locations with the support of the Federal Armed Forces. Appointments can be made online and Health City Councillor Peter Hacker (SPÖ) predicts a total of 150.000 daily tests.

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Austrian town "Fucking" to be renamed "Fugging"
Austrian town "Fucking" to be renamed "Fugging"
Credit: Official Website

The local council has decided to change the name of the 106-soul village from "Fucking" to "Fugging". Mayor Andrea Holzner (ÖVP) has stated "Yes, I can confirm that this renaming will take place, but I really don't want to say any more about it. We have already had enough media hype in the past".

The new name is said to take effect on January 1st in 2021.

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Austria to start Covid-19 mass testing on Dec 5th
Austria to start Covid-19 mass testing on Dec 5th
Credit: unsplash/Mufid Majnun

Austria is planning to begin Covid-19 mass testing on December 5th, starting with teachers, police forces and communities with high infection rates. Seven million tests have been ordered so far and the government has mobilized both armed forces and forces to help with testing.

According to health minister Rudolf Anschober, the decisive factor is "that the tests do not create a false sense of security, but that they are accepted not as a substitute but as an additional measure to social distancing, masks and proper hygiene.

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Austrian government announces hard lockdown starting on Nov 17th, hopes for "mood of solidarity"
Closed café during lockdown in Vienna
Closed café during lockdown in Vienna Credit: Herzi Pinki, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Austrian government has announced a "hard lockdown" starting November 17th to contain rising numbers of Covid-19 infections. The country has seen an increase in cases in recent weeks, averaging over 7000 daily cases in the past seven days. Aa partial lockdown was introduced two weeks ago but was deemed ineffective in stopping the spread of the virus.

The new and stricter measures, which will be in effect until at least December 6th, include the closing of schools and all non-essential businesses as well as a 24-hour curfew. People are urged to stay inside their homes except for a few exceptions, e.g. for emergencies, job-related purposes, "necessary basic needs of daily life", help and care of family members and "physical and mental recovery". Restaurants, gyms and museums have already been closed since early November. 

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9,262 new Covid-19 infections in Austria

Austria has recorded 9,262 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, including late reports of new infections from the last few days due to technical problems in the reporting system.

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober appeals to operators and customers of shopping centers to adhere to Covid-19 regulations, after pictures of people crowded together in shopping centers surfaced.

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Austrian President Van der Bellen in hospital after pelvic injury
Austrian President Van der Bellen in hospital after pelvic injury
Credit: Peter Lechner / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.5)

The Austrian Federal President suffered a painful pelvic injury in a fall in his second official residence. According to the statement, Van der Bellen will stay in the hospital for the next few days for pain therapy, but an operation is not necessary. "The Federal President is otherwise in good spirits", according to a statement.

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14 Arrests after Vienna attack

The man accused of carrying out the attack is a 20-year-old "Islamist terrorist" who was released early from jail in December 2019. Police have carried out a series of raids and made 14 arrests in the hours since a gunman murdered four people in the heart of Vienna.

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Terrorist in Vienna, three dead and several injured
Terrorist in Vienna, three dead and several injured
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Update: The police have stated that during a terrorist attack in Vienna at least three people have been killed and several people have been injured.

There is at least one perpetrator who has been shot by police forces, there is the possibilty of additional perpetrators.

The confirmed shooter had been armed with an assault rifle.

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Austria goes into 4-week partial lockdown starting Tuesday, imposes curfew and restrictions on private gatherings
Sebastian Kurz
Sebastian Kurz Credit: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Starting Tuesday, November 3, Austria enters its second lockdown which is set to last until November 30. Newly imposed restrictions include a nightly curfew from 8 pm to 6 am during which citizen are not allowed to leave their homes except for emergencies, job-related purposes, "necessary basic needs of daily life", help and care of family members and "physical and mental recovery". Restaurants, bars and gyms must be closed, and all events will be cancelled throughout November. The Austrian government has further introduced a "two-household-rule", meaning gatherings are restricted to a maximum of six people from not more than two different households.

"We are aware that these measures are unpopular", said Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) on Saturday.

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Austrian chancellor considers second lockdown as a measure of last resort
Austrian chancellor considers second lockdown as a measure of last resort
Credit: Bundesministerium für Finanzen, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz has stated that he considered a second lockdown as a measure of last resort to contain the further spread of Covid-19 and prevent hospitals reaching capacity.

"We have a massively increasing, exponential growth. It is an extreme challenge. The situation is very, very serious, even for those who still refuse to believe it," so Kurz.

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Austria reports 2,435 Covid-19 cases, highest daily record
Newly identified cases of confirmed SARS-CoV2 infection per day of diagnosis in Austria.
Newly identified cases of confirmed SARS-CoV2 infection per day of diagnosis in Austria. Credit: AGES Dashboard

Austria has recorded new 2,435 Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours on Thursday, its highest daily record since the start of the pandemic. The country has seen a steady increase in cases since September,

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Over 8,800 descendants of NS victims show interest in Austrian passport
Over 8,800 descendants of NS victims show interest in Austrian passport
Credit: Österreich man / Public domain (Public Domain)

Since September 1, descendants of victims of the Nazi regime with foreign citizenship have been able to obtain Austrian citizenship by means of a so-called notification. As of Thursday, Austrian representations abroad have already received almost 8,800 inquiries via the online questionnaire provided for this purpose, as the Foreign Ministry informed the Austrian Press Agency upon request.

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Austria triples expenditures for security of Jewish institutions

Instead of the current funding contract, the Austrian government plans on determining the funding for the security of Jewish institutions by law in the future.

In addition, it is planned that the founding will be more than tripled to around €4 million.

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Austria reports first Covid-19 cases in schools days after reopening
The Andersen Kindergarten in the Hügelpark in Hietzing, Vienna
The Andersen Kindergarten in the Hügelpark in Hietzing, Vienna Credit: Herzi Pinki (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

According to a spokesperson of the government "there are no major clusters at educational institutions" after three cases of Covid-19 have been reported in three different schools in Vienna and 13 cases at multiple kindergartens.

The classmates of the infected students now need to go into quarantine for ten days since their last contact with the infected person.

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Austria starts regular operation of facial recognition technology

After an approximately one-year trial period the facial recognition system of the Ministry of the Interior of Austria has went into regular operation.

According to the ministry the system has been used 581 times so far and 83 criminal suspects have been identified by the software.

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Austrian Chancellor Kurz announces that he wants to "prevent another lockdown"
2020 Sebastian Kurz Ministerrat am 8.1.2020 - adaption: Added background and blur
2020 Sebastian Kurz Ministerrat am 8.1.2020 - adaption: Added background and blur Credit: Bundesministerium für Finanzen (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has announced in a statement that during the next week "further measures" will be decided on with the goal to "prevent another lockdown". According to him at this point there is more information about the Covid-19 virus that enables "accurate measures".