Austria’s News in English: November 19 – 25

Welcome to the latest edition of MyExpatCommunity Austrian news feature! Here we’ll provide you with snippets of the most important Austrian news of the last couple of weeks so you can stay up to date.

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1. Government starts Reform of Social Security over protests from the opposition

Even though no law has been passed yet, the ÖVP-FPÖ government is starting the proposed reform of the current social insurance regulation. The two parties gained access to the social insurance institutions by changing the retirement benefits law. The opposition parties are outraged – questioning if this procedure is in accordance with the constitution.

By changing the retirement benefits law, the Ministry of Social Affairs will have access to the data of the insured population. So far, the state has only had the right to a supervisory law for social insurance institutions. In the future, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Finance may possibly have direct access and enforcement rights – which would go against the constitutional right of self-administration. The government has rejected the complaints, saying that those steps are necessary, as certain institutions are not planning to go along with the reform.

Source: Der Standard

2. FPÖ plans to extend the Hijab Ban

The Austrian government has proposed a law to expand the ban on hijabs to elementary schools. The opposition party Neos also proposed to expand the ban to all compulsory schools. The goal is to guarantee integration “along the lines of local customs,” and gender equality. It is however unlikely that the government will have success with the current proposal, since they are aiming for a constitutional law, which would mean that a third party – either SPÖ or Neos – would need to join in for a two-third majority.

In that case, the FPÖ is moving forward with a regular law, even though it might be unconstitutional due to breaching the principle of “freedom of religion”. The prior established ban of hijabs in kindergartens has been in effect since Wednesday. The FPÖ however wants to expand that law from the children to the kindergarten teachers. The current wording of the proposal is once again not directly naming the to banned object hijabs, but is referring to covering the head for “religious reasons”.

The SPÖ is only interested in voting for this ban expansion if the government reintroduces the “Integration Pot” – an extra budget, allocated with 80 Million Euro and used for integration work force like social workers (the government had cancelled this budget for 2019). Furthermore, the party wants to talk about all-day schooling, something that the ÖVP is rejecting. The Neos proposed an alternative draft that on the one hand bans religious clothing, but also provides language courses, all-day schooling and ethics classes.

Source: Der Standard

3. Preparing for the Next Wave of Influenza

The influenza season in Vienna has already started, with several thousand people being infected. According to the MA 15 (Health Service of the City of Vienna), there is currently no epidemic in sight though. That would require that there are 10,000 new infections in one week. When this might happen is up to debate, as the major breakout could also come around the change of the season.

The first prognosis on which virus will be predominant this year is drawn from the influenza wave in Australia this summer. The dominant virus there was the Virus A/H1N1, which has shown to cause a rather mild course of disease. However, it affected predominantly children and adolescents. In the end a whole different virus might still take over the northern hemisphere, causing stronger symptoms.

Vaccinations against the influenza are still possible at this point, as they become effective within one and a half to two weeks. They are especially recommended for elderly or people with chronic diseases. The ideal timing every year is October or beginning of November to be prepared. As there usually is a second wave in April and May, the vaccination will have an effectiveness of nine months. The vaccination costs €13.90 at the vaccination centres of the MA 15. Additionally, there are enough vaccines available and the city is not expecting to run into supply problems.

A first self-diagnosis for an influenza infection can be made via the symptoms like chills, high fever, aching joints, a cough, extreme fatigue – but no cold. The illness might be accompanied however with a cold and a sore throat. The best way to avoid infection is to wash hands on a regular basis, and not to touch one’s mouth or eyes. To provide the best possible care for children, an emergency service will be available on the weekends in AKH and Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Spital and three paediatricians will be open. The open practices can be enquired via the health phone 1450. Several hospitals will also save wards for influenza patients.

Source: Die Presse

4. Austria’s Population is Growing thanks to Immigration

A new prognosis by Statistic Austria shows that Austria’s population would be shrinking if it wasn’t for immigration. The new citizens are further equaling out the birth deficit.

Until 2080, Austria’s population will increase by 13% and will move past the nine Million mark already in 2022. By 2080 it will be 10 Million inhabitants. The amount of people living in Austria born abroad will be between 19-26%. Half of those immigrants are from EU or EFTA countries, 17% are from third countries, 16% are from Asia. 3% are from Africa. Additionally, the majority of the immigrants are between 20 and 35 years old.


5. Wiener Linien increase Frequency on Shopping Saturdays

The Wiener Linien are not only increasing the bus, tram and metro frequency on the classic four advent Saturdays when people go Christmas shopping, but they already did so yesterday.

The shortened intervals includes all five metro lines, the trams 43, 46,49, and buses 14A, 22A, 24A, 48A, 57A and 59A. On the Advent Saturdays the 1A, 2A and 3A won’t be running, and the Mariahilferstraße crossing 13A will be split in two routes – Hauptbahnhof and Neubaugasse, as well as Alser Straße/Skodagasse and Neubaugasse/Westbahnstraße.

Source: Die Presse

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