Today in Austria: A round up of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on on Monday in Austria with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Children are returning to school in Austria full time today. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Children are returning to school in Austria full time today. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

All schools to return to full operation today

All schools will return to full operation Monday, May 17th, and will be able to issue sticker books test certificates for rapid antigen tests in schools which will allow teachers and students to access restaurants and sports facilities.

Currently around 8,000 students have refused to take a test in school, 0.8 percent of the 1.1 million students must study at home.

READ MORE: Masks, testing and sport: What are the rules for schools in Austria?

Three million people now vaccinated in Austria

Three million people in Austria have now received at least one vaccination. The Federal Chancellery maintains that everyone who wants to be given a vaccine will have the opportunity by the end of June.

Seven day incidence at 69

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 69 according to the AGES database.

The number is highest in Vorarlberg, which at 119 is the only remaining federal state with an incidence over 100. The number is lowest in Burgenland (36).

Reform of short term work planned

Labour Minister Martin Kocher gave an interview to ORF at the weekend in which he said around 150,000 people will return to normal work from short-time work or unemployment on Wednesday, when large scale openings are planned.

In the coming years the shortage of skilled workers threatens to become “endemic”, says the minister, because the baby boomers are retiring. Kocher wants to reform short term working by the end of May.

He is currently negotiating the issue with social partners, and will hold talks this week. Austria’s short term work is generous compared to other European countries, the domestic regulation is generous and so far, around €8 billion has been paid out, the outlet reports. 

READ MORE: Austria extends furlough scheme until end of June

Costs to rise for home builders

Increasing prices of raw materials such as insulation material, wood and steel are driving up construction costs, according to the Die Presse newspaper. In the past weeks and months there have been significant price increases for metals on the commodity exchanges, it reports. It says industry experts predict costs will rise for private home builders in the future. 

Special session in Austria’s National Council

Austria’s National Council is facing a special session on Monday, in which the recent actions of  Finance Minister Gernot Blümel and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will be discussed, the Wiener Zietung newspaper reports.

The paper says Blümel only delivered documents to the U-Committee when the Constitutional Court ordered the Federal President to intervene, and Chancellor Kurz faces a possible charge for making false statements in the U-Committee.

A decision by the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) is not expected until autumn according to the outlet. The opposition FPÖ party is considering introducing a motion of no confidence against Kurz, while the opposition SPÖ and Neos parties are demanding Kurz’s resignation only in the event of an actual criminal complaint against him.

Read more: Austrian Chancellor Kurz sees image dented as he faces investigations

Iran cancels visit over Israeli flag

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif cancelled a visit to Vienna, planned for Saturday, to see ÖVP Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

The broadcaster ORF reports he said it was because the Federal Chancellery and the Foreign Ministry decided to fly the Israeli flag on Friday in view of the latest developments in the Middle East conflict. 

READ MORE: Austria flies flag of Israel on official buildings ‘in solidarity’

Organisers of Vienna demo ‘played Hitler speech’

The organisers of an anti-coronavirus lockdown demo in Vienna on Saturday were also involved in a disbanded demo in Mauthausen on Friday broadcaster ORF reports.

Co-organiser Alexander Ehrlich had played a speech by Hitler around the time when President Alexander Van der Bellen laid a wreath in memory of the Nazi victims at the nearby concentration camp memorial. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Austria’s lucrative winter season has already been hit by pandemic restrictions for the past two years. But this year there is also record inflation, staff shortages and an energy crisis to deal with.

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria's winter season

The winter season in Austria is a big driver of the country’s economy and has been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions for the past two winters.

But this year the industry faces an even bigger crisis – a combination of rising inflation, concerns over energy supplies, staff shortages and the pandemic (because it’s not over yet).

We took a closer look to find out how these issues could impact the industry and what we could expect from this year’s winter season in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: Why is Wien Energie asking for €6 billion from the Austrian government?


Winter sports is a big guzzler of energy to operate ski lifts, apres ski venues and snow making machines. 

This means the industry is in a vulnerable position as energy prices rise, with some resort operators already confirming they will have to pass on some costs to customers.

Johann Roth, Managing Director at Präbichl in Styria, said that energy costs at the resort have tripled and admitted he is concerned about the coming winter season.

Roth told the Kronen Zeitung: “Of course we will have to increase the ticket prices, and to an extent that has never been seen in recent years.”

READ MORE: Cost of living: Why are restaurants getting more expensive in Austria?

At Planai ski resort in Schladming, Styria, Director Georg Bliem said they aim to keep the day ticket price under €70, but has also set up an energy task force to find cost-saving measures for this year. 

Suggestions for Planai include narrower slopes, reduced snowmaking capabilities, shorter cable car operating times and even a delayed start to the season.

Electricity costs at Planaibahn (the resort’s ski lift and gondola operator) were already at €3 million before the current energy crisis, according to the Kronen Zeitung.

Then there are hospitality businesses and hotels at ski resorts that are also being hit by rising costs.

As a result, the Kurier reports that room prices in overnight accommodation could increase by a further 15 percent in winter, and many people will no longer be able to afford skiing holidays.

Heating may be an issue in winter as the energy crisis looms (Photo by Achudh Krishna on Unsplash)


Rising prices are just one element of the energy crisis as there are fears that Austria will not have enough gas for the coming winter season – mostly due to the war in Ukraine.

In March, Austria activated the early warning system – which is the first level of a three-step emergency plan – for the country’s gas supply. If it reaches step three (emergency level), energy control measures will be put in place across the country.

FOR MEMBERS: When will Austria make the €500 anti-inflation payment and how do I get it?

How this would impact ski resorts is unknown, but at the emergency level, households, essential industries and infrastructure would be prioritised for energy.

So far, there is no indication that step two (alert level) will be activated and the European Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory recently confirmed that Austria’s gas storage capacity was 60 percent full

Austria’s goal is to reach 80 percent capacity by November 1st in order to have a safety reserve.

However, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler already appealed to businesses and households in July to start saving energy where possible.

Staff shortages

Ever since Austria (and Europe) started opening up after Covid-19 lockdowns, the hospitality and tourism industries have been struggling to find staff.

In fact, shortly before the start of the summer season in Austria, there were 30,000 open job vacancies in the tourism sector. And the Wiener Zeitung recently reported on how restaurants in Vienna are struggling to keep up with customer demand due to staff shortages. 

READ NEXT: ‘We need immigration’: Austrian minister insists foreign workers are the only solution

The issue is even being discussed in parliament and it has already been made easier for seasonal workers in Austria to access residency through changes to the Red-White-Red card. 

Now, there are expectations of similar staff shortages for the winter season, which could cause further stress for ski resort operators.


Back in July, it was reported that the federal government was working on a Covid-19 contingency plan to get the country through another autumn and winter.

It envisages four scenarios – numbered from the best to the worst case. In the best case scenario, Austrians can live free of any pandemic rules. In the second best scenario, the situation will remain as it is (find out more about Austria’s latest Covid-19 rules here).

In scenario three, if new variants lead to more severe illness, the mask requirement will be expanded and more testing will be carried out.

READ MORE: REVEALED: The Covid-19 measures for the start of the Austrian school year

There could even be night-time curfews, entry tests and restrictions on private meetings. In addition, major events could be stopped from taking place and nightclubs closed.

Scenario four, the worst case scenario, would mean vaccination no longer offered protection and hospitals became overwhelmed, leading to severe restrictions on people’s social lives.

From what we’ve seen over the past two winters, scenarios three and four would likely impact winter sports operations. But to what degree would depend on the severity of the situation.