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. 

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Tens of thousands of workers in Austria hit by Covid and flu as cases rise

Does it seem like everyone around you in Austria is sick? As it turns out, statistics support your suspicions.

Tens of thousands of workers in Austria hit by Covid and flu as cases rise

Last week, over 110,000 people in Austria were absent from work due to COVID-19, influenza, or flu-like diseases.

Statistics from ÖGK policyholders, Austria’s largest public health insurer, indicated that more than 400 individuals were specifically impacted by influenza (“real flu”), while over 84,000 stayed home due to flu-like symptoms. ÖGK’s chief physician, Andreas Krauter, highlighted a noticeable uptick in sick days via a statement on Monday.

The news comes Austria struggles with 10,000 more COVID-19 infections. than at the same time last year. Several variants of the Omicron strain of the virus are currently under observation by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and with temperatures plummeting, it is thought that a colder winter could further boost cases. 

Austria was a centre of several COVID-19 outbreaks in the early months of the pandemic, and stringent measures were introduced across the country in order to tackle its spread. 

READ MORE: How can I get a Covid or flu vaccine in Austria this autumn?

In his statement, Krauter emphasised the efficacy of masks in offering reliable protection against infection and curtailing further transmission. He particularly stressed the importance of considering this protective measure for individuals with underlying health risks. “For them and everyone else, we recommend vaccination against Covid-19 and influenza. Washing your hands is also important”, he said in a press release.

In total, ÖGK recorded 297,000 individuals afflicted by various illnesses or injuries and registered for sick leave during the last week.