How tourists circumvent the corona rules in Austria

Dhe Austrian liberalism in skiing is always blooming. Most recently it became known that a few dozen young people who love sport and partying, mainly from Northern Europe, have taken advantage of the gaps to stay in Tyrol over the winter. The government in Vienna is now trying to make the rules a little tighter. However, skiing as an outdoor sport for the local population should continue to be possible for the time being. How things will go with the closings in Austria will be decided next week.

It was the mayor of St. Anton am Arlberg who sounded the alarm about the hustle and bustle: British, Danes and Swedes who had found quarters and celebrated après-ski parties with canned beer from the supermarket at hay barn in the ski area. In the “third lockdown”, the tourism businesses in Austria had to close as well as all shops except those for basic supplies. Restaurants, hotels and other commercial accommodations are closed. There are also exit restrictions: You may only leave the apartment for work, necessary activities such as shopping or visiting the doctor, as well as for personal relaxation.

Where is the loophole?

The loophole, however, is the employment exemption. Where possible, employers and employees are encouraged to work from home. But sometimes travel is unavoidable, and then a room can be booked. And apparently the foreign residents entered the country on the grounds of starting a job. They even officially registered on site for this purpose.

“A lot of people have registered second homes and say they have a job prospect. But there are currently no jobs in tourism ”, the mayor of St. Anton, Helmut Mall, is quoted as saying. The newspaper “Kurier” reported that around twenty people had arrived last week and had brought the required entry form with them.

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It is doubtful that these people came up with this idea on their own. “Apparently tips are circulating on the Internet on how to bypass bans and get to St. Anton unmolested, namely by train from Zurich,” says Mayor Mall. There are photos where “thirty to forty party guests can be seen”. There are black sheep among the landlords. The mayor sent out an information sheet by post. “Such facts and facts” cannot be tolerated. The village could be seriously damaged. The police have already been charged with rigorous checks, for example in accordance with the Registration and Residence Act.

Now the Austrian Ministry of Health has announced a “clarification”. If someone enters the country on the grounds of starting a job or having an interview, he has to prove this. Otherwise, entry for professional purposes is not possible. The opposition heavily criticized the ÖVP-Green governments, in the federal government and especially in the state of Tyrol. “First Ischgl got into the headlines as a corona hotspot due to the turquoise-green management by Chaos, now the corona clusters are piling up in Tyrol and at the same time you hear about lavish après-ski parties, ski tourists and vacations despite the lockdown,” said the Federal managing director of the social democratic SPÖ, Christian Deutsch. It must be acted quickly and not appeased, otherwise there is a threat of “fatal effects on the population” in terms of compliance with the lockdown.

The Tyrolean governor Günter Platter (ÖVP) was “angry” about the violations, but also warned that the mood in the population “changes” if steps are not taken. He also complained about “Tyrol bashing” because every “little thing” is pointed to his state.

Mutant brought in from South Africa?

There were also waves of reports about a vacation that individual hoteliers from the Tyrolean Zillertal had taken to South Africa at the turn of the year. In the meantime, seven positive corona cases with the South African mutant have become known in Tyrol, five of them in the Schwaz district with reference to a “cluster” among employees of the Hochfügen mountain railway in the Zillertal, the other two with connections to this area.

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The head of the Tyrolean Corona task force was quoted by the Austria Press Agency as saying that this was due to the Zillertal hoteliers, who were in South Africa, was “unlikely from a medical point of view”. This is reminiscent of statements by the Tyrolean health authorities last spring on the suspicion of a corona cluster in Ischgl. Another question is whether such a vacation trip has been forbidden against Austrian regulations; after all, there is no travel ban, only test and quarantine regulations.

However, there are also Corona slope clusters in other federal states. In the meantime, 76 illnesses have been assigned to a ski instructor course in Flachau in Salzburg’s Pongau region. The state authorities announced on Thursday that a new PCR test on course participants, trainers and staff revealed this. All participants are in quarantine – whether infected or not – and are not allowed to leave the ski instructor’s quarters for the time being. It is now being checked whether the course has violated the Covid-19 regulations. As a result of the outbreak, all ski instructor courses in Salzburg were canceled.

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Thomas Schellenbacher: Escape helper (neue-deutschland.de)

Photo: Peter Kneffel / dpa

Thomas Schellenbacher, that is what you would call an inconspicuous “third dwarf from the left” in Vienna. In this case, probably from the right, but that doesn’t matter. After attending the secondary school in St. Leonhard am Forst, the technical college in St. Pölten followed. From 2013 to 2017 with a ticket from the Vienna FPÖ in the National Council, he was then active as the owner of a trading company for lighting equipment. Yes, politics, for Schellenbacher from the very beginning it was a hard place full of feint and false friends. In 2016, the accusation surfaced that a businessman from Ukraine with the best contacts in Russia had paid ten million euros for Schellenbacher’s better placement on the FPÖ list. But who would have guessed that this man would become a key figure in the Wirecard affair?

Schellenbacher has been in custody since the weekend. He was arrested together with two officers from the Austrian secret service BVT. Together, the three are said to have organized the escape of ex-Wirecard board member Jan Marsalek. Schellenbacher, the investigators believe, organized the pilots and the flight in a Cessna from Bad Vöslau near Vienna to Minsk for the manager who ran away with billions. It is unclear to what extent Schellenbacher was aware of what he was doing. He reported that he had “concerns”.

The driving force behind the action seems much more to be one of the arrested BVT men. The former head of the “Information gathering and investigation” department is specifically suspected of being a mastermind. Marsalek, for his part, is suspected of having passed on BVT information to the FPÖ – via the detour of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society (ORFG). The bottom line is that the entire BVT is suspected of having worked for Wirecard, the FPÖ or the ORFG.

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Traveling despite Corona: How globetrotters experience the pandemic

MSome globetrotters are not deterred from their travel plans by Corona. Many have even done very well, for example in countries like Australia or New Zealand, which have the virus under control and have returned to a relative normalcy – in some cases without any mask requirement.

Travelers report on road trips, life in the outback and “the time of their life”. But also of doubts and the impossibility of making plans. We spoke to globetrotters and backpackers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Australia: a better location than Germany

Nicole Pern from Unna in the Ruhr area had been in Australia for a while when suddenly Corona struck and mixed up her plans. After graduating from high school, she came Down Under with a visa for a vacation work stay, worked in Sydney, then on a farm and also traveled across the country.

Despite the pandemic, the 20-year-old decided to stay. “It was difficult because the situation was very difficult to assess, but objectively speaking, the situation was much better compared to Germany.” In addition, the costs for flights rose massively at the time.

Nicole Pern from Unna decided to stay in Australia despite the corona pandemic

Source: dpa / private

Nicole says she’s a little homesick now. Sometimes she just misses “the comfort in Germany and not always being ‘on the move'”. But the dramatic corona situation in Germany scares them off.

“In Australia, especially here in Perth, all options are open to me. I have never worn a mask before and have never been to such big festivals as here,” she says. So did everything right? “Germans may not understand that, but 2020 was the best year of my life!”

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Line Sophia Schallmayer is currently in Kundabung on the east coast. The 21-year-old from Frankfurt had just landed in Australia when the virus emerged in March. Actually, she would have loved to fly home straight away.

“But that wasn’t feasible, flights were priceless and hardly available,” she says. “The first few weeks I felt a little like I was stuck.” But then the Hessian made the best of the situation. “I wasn’t able to travel as much as originally planned, but I learned and experienced a lot this year.”

Line Sophia Schallmayer also came near Uluru on her journey through Australia.  The mountain is sacred to the Aborigines

Line Sophia Schallmayer also came near Uluru on her journey through Australia. The mountain is sacred to the Aborigines

Source: dpa / private

She has traveled the east coast from Sydney up to tropical Cairns, and was also able to marvel at Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the red heart of Australia. Before going home to Germany in March, she wanted to go to the west coast for the next few weeks. Because of the recent Corona outbreak in Sydney, many inner Australian borders have been closed again.

“Australia was a constant up and down. I struggled with myself a lot and had extremely difficult times where I totally questioned myself and the whole trip,” admits Line. And your conclusion? “The best thing was that you are never alone and meet so many fantastic people!”

Traveling despite Corona: Carina Adamik from Recklinghausen has been in Australia with a working holiday visa for two years

Carina Adamik from Recklinghausen has been in Australia on a working holiday visa for two years

Source: dpa / Pivat

The 30-year-old Carina Adamik from Recklinghausen is currently in Perth and has been in the country for two years with a working holiday visa. The occupational therapist canceled a trip to Germany planned for 2020 to see the family again. “Due to Corona I decided to stay in Australia.”

When the virus broke out, she was working on a cattle ranch in the outback. “I didn’t just want to give up.” She went on a road trip, “up and down the west coast”. The virus has hardly changed her trip – also because she could spend a lot of time in the isolated outback. “I would definitely do it again!”

New Zealand: Backpackers were allowed to stay

Sascha Seib (29) and his girlfriend Claudia Tran Ngoc (29) from Gotha are currently on the Abel Tasman Coast Track on the South Island of the Pacific state. The Thuringians arrived in New Zealand in February 2020 – shortly before the first lockdown in the country. By then the two had already found work in a vineyard in Martinborough.

“At first I was shocked and thought we had to leave. But then we got the information that backpackers can stay if they want, ”says Sascha. The lockdown was tough, but necessary. “As you can see now, life in New Zealand is almost back to normal.”

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Switch off in the Caribbean: There is no travel warning for Antigua and Barbuda

Claudia also says that returning to Germany was not an option. “You only get a working holiday visa once in your life and only before you are 30 years old. I would never have gotten such a chance again. ”Their visas are valid until August, which is how long the two of them definitely want to continue traveling across the country.

“But I haven’t planned anything yet because the pandemic is constantly changing everything, including the plans.” The trip is one big adventure. Sascha adds: “When we have toured the South Island, we see what it looks like in Germany – and only then decide what to do next.”

Mexico: Don’t be afraid of Corona

Mark Hegedüs is currently traveling in Mexico, the 44-year-old previously traveled to Costa Rica. “Apart from the fact that you sometimes have to wear a mask and often use disinfectant gel, not much has changed in my opinion,” says the native Hungarian who lived in Vienna for a long time. Overall, he has been traveling in Latin America since 2014 and has now got to know almost every country in the region.

Mark Hegedüs has been traveling in Latin America since 2014.  Here he is looking forward to the highest mountain in Costa Rica, the Cerro Chirripó

Mark Hegedüs has been traveling in Latin America since 2014. Here he is looking forward to the highest mountain in Costa Rica, the Cerro Chirripó

Source: dpa / —

Hegedüs is not afraid of being infected with the coronavirus. “I feel fully fit, eat healthy and have my health insurance,” he says. When entering Costa Rica, he had to present health insurance that also covers treatment for Covid-19. “I would expect something like that from the other countries, too, then you could travel almost anywhere and with reasonable problems,” he says.

At the beginning of the pandemic in Latin America, there were repeated reports that foreign tourists were being attacked because they were seen as a potential source of infection. Hegedüs has not had any bad experiences so far. “But on the contrary. Everyone in Costa Rica was happy about my visit, ”he says. “I often received upgrades for booked rooms without request and was warmly welcomed in the national parks.”

Africa: On a world tour in a Mercedes Sprinter

The retired Swiss couple Heidi and Werner Gloor have been on a world tour in a Mercedes Sprinter since February 2019, currently in Africa. “Why Africa? We thought: let’s start with a more difficult continent ”, say the two. Corona has led to some plan changes – but the virus has not unsettled the couple.

“Flying home was never an issue,” they both emphasize. Instead, they decided to settle on a farm in Tanzania – where they were in spring 2020 – for a few months. There they would have had “the time of our lives”.

The retired Swiss couple Heidi and Werner Gloor have been on a world tour since February 2019

The retired Swiss couple Heidi and Werner Gloor have been on a world tour since February 2019

Source: dpa / private

When the borders gradually opened again, the couple from the canton of Obwalden set off with their motorhome. They spent Christmas and New Year in Namibia in southwest Africa. “Of course the carefree traveling without tests is over,” say Heidi and Werner Gloor. They are now moving more slowly and consciously.

But they are optimistic: “Since our trip has no time limit, visas are easily extended due to Covid and there are beautiful remote regions to discover in every country, we are not too worried.”

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Africa by rail: The journey on the Rovos Rail train takes you through Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa

From Tanzania to South Africa

Read here what WELT columnist Martin Lewicki experiences on his world tour in times of Corona.

Stricter controls on flights from high-risk areas

Now they have come into force, the tightened police controls on flights from high-risk areas. This includes countries such as the USA, Egypt and Spain. If you want to enter Germany from these countries, you should pay attention to the following.

Source: WELT / Sandra Saatmann

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Austria: The pressure on the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is increasing – politics

The escape aid for Wirecard manager Jan Marsalek to Belarus by two Austrians had already caused a lot of unrest in Vienna in the past few days. Since the public prosecutor’s office searched the house of employees of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Combat Terrorism (BVT) and ordered at least one further arrest, political interest has finally shifted to the BVT.

One of Marsalek’s two escape helpers was apparently ex-FPÖ member of the National Council, Thomas Schellenbacher, who has been the focus of investigators for years because of allegations of corruption and who has already admitted to having organized a flight to Minsk for Marsalek. The other was a former BVT department head, Martin W. Both men were arrested last week, but W. was released on Sunday. Another BVT employee was arrested in Carinthia at the weekend.

The Federal Office has been in the headlines for years anyway. A fundamental renewal of the service is supposed to start this spring. Interior Minister Karl Nehammer wants to “professionalize” the work of the BVT. Two years ago, when the office was still under FPÖ Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, a raid caused a sensation, which is said to go back to a dossier – prepared by W. – full of dubious allegations against BVT employees. As a result, a task force for street crime led by a police officer close to the FPÖ stormed the BVT in 2019 and took away sensitive documents with them. The opposition described the raid as an attempt to “politically change the color” of the protection of the constitution.

Since then, the BVT has been regarded as poorly organized and thinned out in terms of staff, and the internal mood has been shattered. In the autumn of 2020, there was new trouble when the terrorist fighters classified information too late and incorrectly about a well-known Islamist who had met with like-minded people and tried to buy ammunition in Slovakia. The attack on November 2nd in Vienna, which the Islamist committed and which killed four people, might otherwise have been prevented.

The axes to Moscow and Kiev

At the moment, the priorities of the Ministry of the Interior are once again less about restructuring the agency than about avoiding further headlines. The new allegations weigh heavily. On the one hand, employees of the office are said to have worked for the insolvent payment service provider Wirecard, passed on “personal data” to the company and checked the solvency of providers of pornographic websites.

The employee who has now been arrested in Carinthia has been investigated earlier because he is said to have spied for Russia. The suspicious employee was later parked in the security academy, where he should no longer have access to sensitive data. He is reportedly a confidante of W. and was – like this and a few other colleagues who are currently the investigators’ sights – also active as a witness against the BVT years ago. That then led to the fatal raid.

And then there are the axes to Moscow and Kiev. As it became known months ago, Jan Marsalek is said to have regularly received information from the office and passed it on to the FPÖ politician Johann Gudenus, who was affinity with Russia at the time, via the Austrian-Russian friendship group. The Greens, part of the governing coalition, are now calling for intensive political research. According to the Green politician David Stögmüller, it must be clarified whether there was “an outflow of information from the BVT to Marsalek”.

The former FPÖ MP Schellenbacher, who organized the flight for Marsalek, has excellent contacts with Ukrainian oligarchs. There are allegations of money laundering and corruption. For its part, the FPÖ countered with allegations: The blue MP Christian Hafenecker accused BVT on Monday that, according to investigations by the Federal Office for the Fight against Corruption (BAK), an ex-Stasi agent had instigated BVT employees to collect information for the Czech Sazka group , which is now the majority owner of the Austrian gaming group Casinos Austria.

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Wirecard News: Investigative committee wants to question escape helpers

Jan Marsalek

The former Wirecard manager is on the run.

(Photo: Leopold Fiala)

Frankfurt / Munich The time in prison was short: after only one weekend in custody, a high-ranking ex-official of the Austrian secret service BVT is free again. He is said to have helped the former Wirecard board member Jan Marsalek to escape.

Marsalek is one of the main suspects in the multi-billion dollar fraud scandal involving the insolvent payment service provider from Aschheim near Munich. His compatriot Martin W., the former spy’s name, was a close confidante for several years. W. is said to have had his own office in Marsalek’s villa on Prinzregentenstrasse in Munich.

Reason enough for the Austrian investigators to tackle the ex-spy: W. is said to have behaved extremely cooperatively in the interviews over the weekend, according to Vienna. It is possible that W. incriminated other accused and disclosed details about Marsalek’s business.

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Possible escape helpers from ex-Wirecard board member in custody

Jan Marsalek

The former Wirecard manager is on the run.

(Photo: Leopold Fiala)

Munich Former Wirecard board member Jan Marsalek is said to have received support from a former high-ranking official in the Austrian news service BVT and an ex-member of the right-wing populist party FPÖ when he fled last June.

According to information from several media outlets, Martin W., once number three in the neighboring country’s intelligence service, and former member of the National Council, Thomas Schellenbacher, have been in custody in Austria since the end of last week. First the newspaper “Der Standard” reported about it.

The Vienna public prosecutor’s office accuses both of having helped Marsalek flee to Minsk in Belarus. That is why the public prosecutors obtained an “arrest order” last Friday at the Vienna Regional Court. The allegation that a former high-ranking official of the intelligence service and an ex-MP helped one of the most wanted economic criminals in the world to escape has shaken the Alpine republic since the weekend.

Because even more than six months after the spectacular bankruptcy of Wirecard, there is still no trace of Marsalek. With the knowledge of the investigators, however, the picture of his escape intensifies. On June 18, 2020, it became clear that around 1.9 billion euros did not exist in Wirecard’s trust accounts in the Philippines. While the then Wirecard boss Markus Braun was taken into custody a few days later, Marsalek evaded possible arrest. He fled.

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Marsalek responsible for third party business

At Wirecard, Chief Operating Officer Marsalek was the deputy head behind Braun and was primarily responsible for the controversial third-party business. In countries in which Wirecard did not have its own license to process payment transactions, external partners took on this task. To secure the cash flows, the high cash balances were allegedly invested in two banks in Manila.

According to “Der Standard”, ex-MP Schellenbacher was supposed to have been commissioned by ex-intelligence officer W. a few days before the Wirecard bankruptcy became known to organize a flight for Marsalek to Minsk. On June 19, one day after Wirecard became aware of the falsified balance sheet, a Cessna Citation Mustang 50 took off from the small airport in Bad Vöslau, 30 kilometers south of Vienna.

The plane of the airline Jet X Aviation Services, which took off at 8:03 p.m., is said to have landed in Minsk around 11 p.m. with Marsalek on board. Since then, there has been no trace of the former Wirecard board member. Marsalek is said to have paid the price of around 8,000 euros for the flight in cash.

More: Braun’s lawyers paint the picture of a betrayed visionary. But companions tell a different story.

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Austria’s supermarkets are vying for free FFP2 masks

In Austria, from this Monday on, citizens will have to wear FFP2 protective masks in many parts of public life. In the days before, there was already a strong demand for the filtering face pieces with comparatively good virus protection, as they are called in English. Many supermarket chains are now holding out the prospect of offering hygiene protection free of charge.

Michaela Seiser

Michaela Seiser

Business correspondent for Austria and Hungary based in Vienna.

Over the past week, the price of FFP2 masks has become a race in the big supermarket chains. Initially, the masks were available for up to eight euros. Then in the middle of the week Hofer (the Austrian branch of the discount store Aldi), Spar and Rewe (with the local suppliers Billa, Merkur and the discount store Penny) announced that they would sell the FFP2 masks that will be required when shopping on Monday from 59 cents per piece . The interest of the Austrians was accordingly, so that during the week the issue was limited to five pieces per purchase. Then the industry leader Rewe put the competition under pressure on Saturday with the announcement that the masks would initially be made available for free.

Spar and Hofer reacted immediately and now also want to hand over the masks for free. Lidl wants to follow suit during the week. Even the wholesaler Metro Austria announced that it would be giving away FFP2 masks for free.

“While stocks last”

Rewe had previously assured that there were enough masks. Because of the great uncertainty among the population, every customer of Billa, Merkur and Penny will now be given an FFP2 mask free of charge for the first three days. “This offer is valid while stocks last at the respective location,” said the management. But there would be enough masks on Monday.

Spar and Hofer also announced a short time later that they would be providing their customers with FFP2 masks free of charge. Free masks are distributed at the entrance to Spar, Eurospar and Interspar markets as well as Maxim markets, and each customer receives one. The offer is valid “while stocks last”, but without a time limit.

At the weekend it became known what penalties could be expected in Austria if the FFP2 mask requirement was violated. Anyone who violates the obligation to wear will have to pay 25 euros in the future, according to a regulation by the Ministry of Health.

How should it be checked?

How strictly the obligation is enforced in retail varies, according to a broadcast from the Austria Press Agency. “We will politely inform customers of the FFP2 mask requirement on Monday. You can get a mask from us. We can’t do more, “says Spar. The employees could not check whether someone could not wear such a mask for medical reasons. One is confident that it will work, because the MNS masks have also been used so far works well.

The Rewe Group plans to proceed much more strictly. Customers who are exempt from the obligation to wear an FFP2 mask for health reasons are asked to show a doctor’s confirmation upon request. Hofer also points out that the wearing of an FFP2 protective mask applies to everyone over the age of 14 who cannot claim a medical exception. It is unclear whether the free issue of masks will stimulate the grocery trade. In any case, he was one of the winners of the strict going-out restrictions last year, while other parts of the stationary trade suffered badly.

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Kitzbühel: Fall drama on the Streif – “You just don’t want to see such pictures”

Winter sports Kitzbühel

Fall drama on the Streif – “You just don’t want to see such pictures”

| Reading time: 2 minutes

Urs kryenbuehl

The Swiss Urs Kryenbuehl lost his balance in the air and crashed onto the slope

Those: AP / Giovanni Auletta

The legendary and notorious Streif in Kitzbühel has once again become the scene of serious falls. Two ski racers had to be transported away by rescue helicopter.

Stillstand on the Streif. For the second time that day, sport in Kitzbühel is a minor matter, athletes and coaches look in shock at the place where several paramedics are looking after the Swiss Urs Kryhenbühl, the helicopter next to it ready for take-off. “You just don’t want to see pictures like that,” says Beat Feuz, the leader at this point in the race.

Again there were violent accidents on the Hahnenkamm descent. First the American Ryan Cochran-Siegle fell, then Kryenbühl. Both had to be flown away by rescue helicopter. At first there were no diagnoses – at least Cochran-Siegle seemed to have gotten off lightly despite the violent accident.

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Tommy Ford was taken to a hospital by rescue helicopter

Serious accident in the giant slalom

The US professional lost control of the skis shortly before the finish in the infamous traverse and crashed into a safety net at full speed. As a result of the massive impact – the fellow favorite was pushed upside down with his back and neck into the boundary – he broke through the net and remained lying behind it. The jury radio announced that the 28-year-old had pain in his shoulder.

At first Kryenbühl lay motionless

A little later, Kryenbühl caught it at the target jump. The 26-year-old adjusted himself incorrectly for the long jump, lost his balance in the air and crashed head first onto the slopes. After lying motionless after several rollovers, he at least moved again afterwards, was approachable and received medical treatment for a long time.

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According to the radio jury, initial examinations suggest a traumatic brain injury. The race continued after an interruption.

Paramedics take care of Urs Kryenbühl

Paramedics take care of Urs Kryenbühl

Source: AFP / HELMUT FOHRINGER

In the end, however, the classic on the Streif was canceled after 30 starters and several compulsory breaks, the victory went to Beat Feuz. Due to poor visibility and sometimes dangerous winds, the race could not be continued for safety reasons.

Feuz won ahead of Matthias Mayer from Austria and Dominik Paris from South Tyrol. The German Andreas Sander finished fifth and thus equalized his best World Cup result.

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Supermarkets give away FFP2 masks – Coronavirus –

Free FFP2 masks from Rewe, Spar and Hofer


Free FFP2 masks from Rewe, Spar and Hofer
© APA (Rewe Group)

First, the large grocery chains Rewe (Billa, Merkur, Penny), Spar and Hofer had offered the FFP2 masks that were mandatory for shopping from Monday (January 25) at the low price of 59 cents each – but then Rewe put the competition on Saturday with the Announcement under pressure to provide the masks free of charge from Monday. Spar, Hofer and Lidl have already reacted and now also want to give away the masks for free.

Rewe had previously assured that there were enough masks, but because of the great “uncertainty of the population”, they now want to make the mandatory FFP2 masks available to customers for free at least in the first half of the week (until Wednesday next week) for shopping . “This offer is valid while stocks last at the respective location,” said a message on Saturday.

Sufficient masks available

“The demand for FFP2 masks has been really high in the last few days,” said Rewe International board member Marcel Haraszti. But there would be enough masks on Monday. More than 5 million masks have already been delivered to Billa, Merkur and Penny, and another 15 million have been ordered. The other big chains have also already assured that they have enough masks.

Spar, Hofer and Lidl followed suit on Saturday and also announced that they would provide their customers with FFP2 masks free of charge.

Spar hands out masks at the entrance

At Spar-, Eurospar-, Interspar- and Maximarkt stores, free masks are distributed at the entrance and each customer receives a piece. The offer is valid “while stocks last”, but without a time limit. Hofer also wants to remove the 59 cent hurdle for his customers and make the masks available for purchase free of charge until further notice.

Free at Lidl from Thursday

Lidl wants to continue to sell the masks until “probably Wednesday” at cost price of 59 cents. A delivery of four million masks is expected on Thursday, which will then be given free of charge to customers who do not yet have an FFP2 mask, according to a broadcast.

This should also meet the requirements of the SPÖ Pensioners Association (PVÖ), which had demanded that all people over 65 should receive an FFP2 mask free of charge before entering a supermarket. Thousands of elderly people had still not received the masks promised by the government at the beginning of December and were therefore “outraged and desperate,” said PVÖ General Secretary Andreas Wohlmuth in a statement.

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Corona attacks by the FPÖ on a broad front – Coronavirus –


FPÖ club chairman Kickl reports Minister of Education Faßmann
© WHAT

In terms of Corona, the FPÖ came up with attacks on a broad front on Saturday. Club chairman Herbert Kickl announced a complaint against Education Minister Heinz Faßmann (ÖVP) because of the self-test for students and teachers. He also questioned whether it would make sense to approve AstraZeneca’s vaccine in the EU. And federal party leader Norbert Hofer fears a massive extension of the lockdown in view of the delivery problems of AstraZeneca.

Kickl and FPÖ health spokesman Gerhard Kaniak justified the complaint against Faßmann in a broadcast by saying that the placing on the market of rapid antigen tests for schoolchildren would violate the Medical Devices Act. “I will report this to the responsible health authority next week,” announced Kaniak. Kickl and Kaniak argued that the distributed tests are not approved for use by laypeople. One of the precautionary measures on the package insert is that the test is “only suitable for experts”. The FPÖ MEP Roman Haider has already turned to the Ombudsman Board about the tests for the children.

In a second broadcast, Kickl questioned the sense of approving the AstraZeneca vaccine in the EU. “On the one hand, the effectiveness of the vaccine has not been proven in people over 65, which puts the protection of the particularly vulnerable group in question. On the other hand – and that would be even worse – it is probably not effective against the new mutations of the coronavirus, such as those from Great Britain. According to media reports, the vaccine from AstraZeneca is currently only being revised for the applicability against the mutations together with the University of Oxford, “claimed Kickl.

And in a third broadcast, party leader Hofer said that the reduction in vaccine deliveries announced by AstraZeneca could be a catalyst for a massive extension of the lockdown planned until February 8, as well as for further lockdowns in the course of the year. “With the best will in the world, our country and its citizens cannot cope with a permanent lockdown.” In addition to the economic consequences and those for the labor market, Hofer also spoke of “considerable collateral damage in the health sector and an impending destabilization of public order”. The federal government must therefore integrate behavior research into the expert committees in order to record which measures trigger the necessary discipline and acceptance in the long term to achieve the goals. In any case, the FPÖ is always ready for solutions beyond the permanent lockdown.

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