Regional News • Europe • Austria
Vienna extends hard lockdown until May 2
Vienna extends hard lockdown until May 2
(Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The hard lockdown in Austria's capital of Vienna has been extended until at least May 1, Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig announced on Monday. While Covid-19 infections have decreased in the past weeks, the city's hospitals are at capacity with a new record of 611 patients in the ICU as of Monday.

The measures include a 24-hour curfew, closure of all non-essential shops and mandatory FFP2 masks in all rooms where more than one person is present.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austrian President Van der Bellen receives first dose of Covid-19 vaccine
Austrian President Van der Bellen receives first dose of Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Screenshot via Twitter, @vanderbellen

Alexander Van der Bellen, the president of Austria, has received his first dose of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine on Friday, he announced on Twitter, adding it was "just a little prick".

"I hope there will soon be enough vaccine so that everyone who wants to can get vaccinated. Because every vaccination counts and is a contribution to normalization - so that we can hopefully soon meet again without worrying, sit together and chat," he added.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Austria's chancellor Kurz alleges unfair distribution of Covid-19 vaccine between EU states
Austria's chancellor Kurz alleges unfair distribution of Covid-19 vaccine between EU states
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler.

Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has sharply criticized the distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus in the European Union. The distribution of the medicines among the EU member states is unfair, contrary to the declared objective of fair participation, he said. Since there were striking differences in the progress of vaccination between the member states, he and other heads of government had compared the national supply data. The result was that deliveries were not made according to population keys: Deliveries were not being made according to population keys. "When I shared this information with some heads of state and government yesterday, many could not believe their eyes and ears," Kurz said.

Health
Denmark and Austria suspend AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination
Denmark and Austria suspend AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

This is due to reports of possible side effects with blood clots after vaccinations, the Danish health administration announced. According to the Danish health authority in Copenhagen, it has received reports of "severe cases of blood clots" in vaccinated persons. Government chief Mette Frederiksen confirmed to reporters outside a hospital in Herlev, Denmark, that the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine would be paused.

"Currently, there is no indication of a causal connection with the vaccination," Austrian media ORF quotes BASG as saying. However, to be on the safe side, the affected vaccine batch would no longer be issued or vaccinated. In Austria, vaccination appointments were canceled at short notice this Sunday. About 6,000 vaccine doses were withdrawn. Of the affected batch, 37,000 doses have been vaccinated.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria to reopen restaurant industry by the end of March
Closed outdoor seating area of a café during lockdown in Vienna
Closed outdoor seating area of a café during lockdown in Vienna Credit: Herzi Pinki, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Restaurants, cafés, and other eateries with outdoor seating will be allowed to reopen on March 27 with patrons having to produce mandatory evidence of a negative Covid-19 test result, Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced in a press conference on Monday. The province of Vorarlberg can reopen hospitality venues on March 15 due to a lower case count.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU leaders debated unilateral Covid-19 measures, expect vaccine passport by summer to revive tourism
EU leaders debated unilateral Covid-19 measures, expect vaccine passport by summer to revive tourism
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

Twenty-seven European leaders have met to debate joint Covid-19 measures, including unilateral border and movement restrictions, the slow vaccine rollout and vaccine passports. While open questions remain, a vaccine passport is to be expected by summer.

Law
Austrian Green politician Sigrid Maurer acquitted by court after she published hate messages directed against her
Austrian Green politician Sigrid Maurer acquitted by court after she published hate messages directed against her
Credit: Die Grünen from Vienna, Austria / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Austrian Green Party politician Sigrid Maurer - herself a victim of vicious insults on the internet - was to stand trial for defamation because she had made the obscene messages to her public via Twitter. Now the trial is over.

As reported by ORF, among others, a landlord has withdrawn his private accusation against the politician "in its entirety". The judge then formally acquitted Maurer. However, the acquittal will only become legally binding when the landlords lawyer "officially withdraws his appeal with a written statement", according to the spokeswoman. If the landlord waives further legal remedies, he will have to bear the costs of the proceedings.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany to impose travel ban from parts of Czech Republic and Austria
Germany to impose travel ban from parts of Czech Republic and Austria
Credit: JoachimKohler-HB, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 IGO)

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has announced that Germany will impose a travel ban from Austria's province Tyrol and "border regions of the Czech Republic" in an effort to curb the spread of more potent Covid-19 mutations. Tyrol has seen an increase in new infections of the 501.V2 variant that was first detected in South Africa.

“The states of Bavaria and Saxony today asked the government to class Tyrol and the border regions of the Czech Republic as virus mutation areas, and to implement border controls,” so Seehofer. “That has been agreed with the (German) chancellor and the vice-chancellor.”

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Investigators search Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blümel's private address
Investigators search Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blümel's private address
Credit: Bundesministerium für Finanzen / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The Economic and Corruption Prosecutor's Office (WKStA) has conducted a "voluntary inspection" at Finance Minister Gernot Blümel's (ÖVP) private home address. This was confirmed by the minister's office on Thursday. He had been questioned about the casino case, after which he was presented with the search warrant, it said. Blümel had then agreed to a "voluntary inspection", otherwise a house search would have been implemented.

Blümel said he now knows the allegations after a conversation with the public prosecutor's office, "these can be cleared up in a few words." Apparently, it is about potential party donations of the gambling company Novomatic to the ÖVP: "No donations from Novomatic were accepted," Blümel stressed.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria eases lockdown restrictions; imposes stricter border controls
Austria eases lockdown restrictions; imposes stricter border controls
Credit: unsplash/Jacek Dylag

Austria has eased national lockdown restrictions, starting today. Non-essential shops, museums and libraries can reopen its doors with mandatory FFP2 masks for both guests and employees and a limited number of people. Hairdressers and other beauty-related services can reopen as well but, additionally to FFP2 masks, clients are required to produce a negative Covid-19 test result not older than 48 hours.

Hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as sports and other leisure facilities, will not be reopening this week.

The government has further imposed stricter entry and quarantine rules for travellers, including producing a negative Covid-19 result and committing to self-quarantine for 10 days.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria announces easing of Covid-19 lockdown

Starting Feb. 8, there will be face-to-face classes for elementary school students, shift work in lower and upper grades and regular testing for students.

The first steps towards opening up the hard lockdown have also been taken in the retail sector, museums and zoos. There, as in the food trade, there will be an FFP2 mask obligation. Also, only a few customers will be allowed into the stores. There must be 20 square meters of space per customer.

Entry requirements, however, will be tightened. A negative Covid-19 test result will be mandatory to be allowed into the country.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria deports schoolgirls amid protests
Austria deports schoolgirls amid protests
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Three schoolgirls and their family members were deported to Georgia and Armenia in the early morning hours Thursday. The children were born and raised in Austria, and protests had formed against the deportation.

ÖVP security spokesman Karl Mahrer defended the deportations in advance by referring to the current legal situation. He rejected the idea of facilitating access to citizenship for children born in Austria.

Politicians from the SPÖ, Neos, and Greens had previously joined the protests against the deportation.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austrian mayors got leftover Covid vaccines, accused of "queue-jumping"
Austrian mayors got leftover Covid vaccines, accused of "queue-jumping"
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

In several Austrian provinces, including Tyrol, Carinthia, Vorarlberg and Vienna, several politicians, municipal employees and relatives were injected with leftover Covid-19 vaccine doses meant for residents and staff at elderly care homes.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz sharply criticised the behaviour.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria extends lockdown to February 7, mandates FFP2 masks
Austria extends lockdown to February 7, mandates FFP2 masks
Credit: Herzi Pinki, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Austrian government has extended the nationwide lockdown to February 7, citing the new mutation B.1.1.7 that was first discovered in the United Kingdom and the daily case count of well over 1000 newly confirmed infections. Chancellor Kurz promises "complete normality" until summer and warned that "we still have two to three tough months ahead of us".

FFP2 masks will be mandatory in all stores and on public transport and strongly recommended everywhere else from January 25 on. Starting February 8, non-essential businesses will be able to reopen while hotels, restaurants and the cultural sector will have to remain closed awaiting further evaluation in February.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria extends Covid-19 lockdown until at least February 7th

In Austria, the lockdown will be extended for the time being by two weeks until February 7. After that, the government announced in a press conference that there could be some initial easing. Trade and museums are then likely to reopen under strict conditions.

Regional News • Europe
European power grid experienced a disruption on Friday
European power grid experienced a disruption on Friday
Credit: unsplash.com / Matthew Henry

Outage in Romania led to underfrequency in Europe. According to Austrian Power Grid, normal operation was restored after one hour.

According to Austrian Power Grid (APG), a disturbance occurred in the synchronized European high-voltage power grid Friday afternoon, which led to an under frequency in Europe with a short-term frequency deviation of about 260 mHz. The detailed analysis is still in progress.

Thanks to the protection mechanisms established throughout Europe and the immediate and coordinated cooperation of the transmission system operators, normal operation for the whole of Europe was restored within an hour. APG controls the supra-regional power transmission grid in Austria.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
First ski resorts in Austria closed due to overcrowding
First ski resorts in Austria closed due to overcrowding
Credit: unsplash.com / Joel Tasche

Although Austria is once again in lockdown, many ski lifts were allowed to open. After a rather quiet start on Christmas Eve and the first holiday, it became more crowded in the ski resorts from the second holiday onwards - too crowded in times of the Covid-19 pandemic, where keeping your distance is the order of the day.

On Sunday, so many people made their way towards the slopes that even some ski resorts pulled the emergency brake and closed down. Already in the morning, the ski resorts at Hauser Kaibling as well as St. Jakob im Walde in Styria closed due to overcrowding, further guests were not allowed to arrive.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria goes into its third hard lockdown
Austria goes into its third hard lockdown
Credit: unsplash.com / Ashley Winkler

The Austrian government has imposed the nation's third lockdown, starting on Saturday 26, after giving people looser rules over the Christmas holidays. From Saturday on, all non-essential business and in-person education will remain closed until at least January 18 and people will not be allowed to leave their homes except for "necessary basic needs of life", exercise, work and health reasons.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria imposes third hard lockdown starting December 26
Austria imposes third hard lockdown starting December 26
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Austrian government has announced the nation's third lockdown, starting on December 26 and lasting until January 18. Restaurants, museums, beauty establishments and schools will remain closed. Starting on January 18, the federal government is planning to make it compulsory for customers to show a negative Covid-19 test when entering a shop or restaurant, and the police are also to carry out random checks.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austrian job offensive to bring 100,000 nursing staff by 2030
Austrian job offensive to bring 100,000 nursing staff by 2030
Credit: unsplash.com / Georg Arthur Pflueger

The federal government of Austria has launched a job offensive together with the Public Employment Service (AMS), as Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) and Labor Minister Christine Aschbacher (ÖVP) explained at a press conference on Monday.

Anschober stated that "our goal is to gradually gain 100,000 new employees by 2030". One way to achieve the needed increase personnel will be through through retraining of people from other professions.