The European (EU) Commission intensified action against Austria on Thursday over controversial rules tying family benefits for children living in other EU states to living costs in that country.
Under the rule, which took effect on Jan. 1, family benefits were calculated according to an index of national purchasing power levels, meaning workers whose families live in neighbouring EU countries such as Hungary and Slovakia are to receive less than before.
“Equal treatment is a fundamental principle of the EU, said EU Social Affairs Commissioner, Marianne Thyssen.
“EU citizens who work in another member state than their own and pay taxes and social security contributions have a right to the same family benefits.”
The commission had first called Vienna out on the law in March, sending a letter of formal notice.
“Having thoroughly analysed the arguments put forward by Austria, the commission has concluded that the concerns have not been addressed, the EU’s executive wrote in a statement on Thursday.
Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic reopen borders to each other
Travel restrictions between Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia was completely lifted, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said on his Facebook page on Friday.
The four countries’ foreign ministers had numerous telephone consultations in recent days on mutually lifting restrictions on borders, the minister said.
“In the end, we managed to agree on all the technical issues, so from today 8 a.m., Hungarian, Czech, Austrian and Slovak citizens will be able to travel to each other’s countries without any restrictions,” Szijjarto added.
Citizens are now allowed to cross the borders between Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia without presenting a negative coronavirus test and without having to undergo an obligatory quarantine, according to the chief of Hungarian diplomacy.
On May 26, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have reopened their respective borders to each other’s citizens for stays of no more than 48 hours without quarantine.
Austria to loosen face-mask requirement, scrap table-size limit in bars
Austria will no longer require shoppers to wear face masks and scrap a limit of four adults at a table in bars and restaurants, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Friday, outlining the next loosening of the country’s coronavirus restrictions.
Austria introduced a lockdown early in its outbreak and had far fewer deaths per capita than many of its neighbours. It was one of the first countries in Europe able to loosen restrictions, beginning on April 14.
Shops, restaurants, bars, schools and hotels have all since reopened.
Authorities have required people to wear masks or alternative cloth face coverings in shops and on public transport, a move aimed at preventing the wearer from infecting others.
“Face masks will no longer be compulsory in shops or in school,” Kurz told a news conference, saying the changes would take effect on June 15.
Masks will continue to be compulsory on public transport, in health facilities including pharmacies, and at service providers where social distancing cannot be ensured, such as at hairdressers, he added.
A limit allowing bars and restaurants to seat no more than four adults at a table will be lifted, and a mandatory closing time of 11:00 p.m. will be extended for two more hours.
Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
Robot delivers meals to customer at Asian restaurant in Vienna, Austria
Austria to pay artists 1,000 euros a month to weather Covid-19 crisis
Self-employed artists in Austria are eligible for monthly pay-outs of 1,000 euros ($1,100) to protect their livelihoods in the current COVID-19 crisis, the government announced on Thursday, responding to pressure from the cultural sector.
The government set up a 90-million-euro fund to help around 15,000 artists during the second half of this year.
“We are acknowledging that the disruption of cultural life will last more than just one or two months,’’ Culture Minister and Vice-Chancellor, Werner Kogler, told a press conference in Vienna.
The announcement came one day after Finance Minister, Gernot Bluemel, said that he had earmarked 25 million euros to cover losses for film productions that were stopped because of the pandemic.
The government is also planning to aid larger cultural institutions.
The coalition between conservatives and Greens has drawn up schemes in recent days to ramp up cultural life after the lockdown period after numerous artists protested that they were being forgotten while other sectors of the economy reopened.
The Green Secretary of State for Cultural Affairs, Ulrike Lunacek, stepped down amid the criticism and was replaced last week by Andrea Mayer, a former senior official in the Culture Ministry.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Austrian Airlines set to resume flights from June 15
Austrian Airlines (AUA) announced on Thursday that it will start to resume its regular flights from June 15 after a break of almost 90 days due to the coronavirus crisis.
In the first week of resuming its services, AUA will offer flights to more than 20 destinations including Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, London and the central Israeli city of Tel Aviv, the Lufthansa subsidiary said in a press release.
In the following week, namely from June 22 to June 28, the airlines will operate flights to additional destinations including Belgrade, Milan, Nice, Prague and Warsaw.
Accordingly, AUA will fly to 37 destinations in the first two weeks of resuming services, subject to new official restrictions, and offer an average of 5 percent capacity compared to the previous year, it said.
“We are all delighted that Austrian Airlines is finally taking off again,” said Chief Commercial Officer Andreas Otto, adding “As soon as we have built up enough feeder traffic on the short and medium-haul routes, we will again offer long-haul flights. That could be the case in July.”
Passengers will be required to wear masks inside airports and aboard aircraft, said AUA in the statement. At Vienna Airport the so-called “Sneeze Guards” (plexiglass panels) will be attached to the check-in, boarding and information desks. There will also be floor markings to help customers keep the safety distance.
It emphasized that special filters will ensure the air on board is constantly cleaned during the flight. The standard of these devices corresponds to those in clinical operating rooms, which means that the air on board will be cleaner than that which a person breathes on earth.
Czech Republic lifts more restrictions, opens borders with Austria, Germany
The Czech Republic on Monday lifted more restrictions, including those on hotels, swimming pools, castles and chateaus, and the indoor sections of restaurants, in a bid to further reopen the economy.
Elementary school children are also allowed to return to school in small groups. Minister of Education Robert Plaga proposed that secondary school, vocational, and conservatory school students be able to return to classes on a voluntary basis beginning June 8.
A mandatory requirement for covering the nose and mouth in public has also been lifted. Wearing face mask is only required in enclosed spaces.
The Karvina region of the country will still undergo restrictive measures for at least another 14 days following a large outbreak of COVID-19 amongst workers in the Darkov Mine, according to Health Minister Adam Vojtech. A blanket test revealed that 212 miners and their close contacts tested positive for the disease.
“From Tuesday, we are opening all railway and road crossings with Germany and Austria, as well as the Hrensko river crossing, and we are abolishing comprehensive border controls. We negotiated with our German and Austrian colleagues so that the conditions would be similar for them as well,” said Interior Minister Jan Hamacek in a press release, adding that a proof for a negative COVID-19 test will still be mandatory and border checks will be random.
The country is also opening up international flights again at major airports on Tuesday.
Crossing borders in non-designated areas will still be prohibited until June 13, and the external borders of the Schengen area will be closed until at least June 15.
Czech Republic mulls “mini-Schengen” with Austria, Slovakia set for mid-June
The Czech Republic will open its borders to Austria and Slovakia by mid-June, according to the Czech Foreign Ministry.
“We are returning to normal and this also applies to tourism. Our goal is to open the borders between the Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovakia by mid-June, moreover, without the need to submit negative tests or quarantine,” Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said in a press release on Tuesday.
The foreign minister described the model as a “mini-Schengen” zone without the need for inspections, tests, or quarantines.
On the same day, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he would like to see the country’s borders all open on June 15.
The prime minister made the remark after a conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel following a virtual meeting of the Visegrad Group (V4) prime ministers.
According to Babis, Poland has not set its sights on the same goal as the rest of the neighboring states. However, Petricek said he believes it could happen at the end of June at the latest.
The ministry said that negotiations with Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Croatia concerning travel from the Czech Republic will take place by the end of the week.
People dine in Cafe Landtmann in Vienna, Austria
A waiter wearing a face mask greets customers in the Cafe Landtmann in Vienna, Austria, May 15, 2020. As part of the federal government’s phased plan, bars and restaurants in Austria are allowed to open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. from May 15, with restrictions such as wearing face masks by employees and a maximum of four adult guests per table. (Photo by Georges Schneider/Xinhua)
Austrian gov’t outlines step-by-step plan to resume cultural activities
The Austrian government on Friday outlined a step-by-step plan for the resumption of cultural activities in the Alpine country.
From May 29 indoor and outdoor events with up to 100 spectators will be allowed, said Health Minister Rudolf Anschober at a press conference here on Friday.
From July 1 events with up to 250 spectators will be possible and cinemas are also due to open, he said.
The one-meter social distancing rule will have to be observed at all events, and there should be one representative responsible for coronavirus issues at each event, he added.
“A very big step” should take place on Aug. 1, when events with up to 500 visitors will be permitted, while events with up to 1,000 visitors will be allowed if a special security concept is available, said the minister.
Anschober was pleased with the latest coronavirus figures, saying that there are just over 1,000 active cases and only 212 patients in hospital at present.
“Austria is on a positive path,” he said.
The step-by-step plan, completed after a week of dialogue with cultural workers and politicians, is to be put into a regulation on May 25 and is to be carried out on May 29, the minister added.
- NCDC announces 328 new COVID-19 cases, total infections now 11,844
- 5.3-magnitude quake hits 92 km NE of Georgetown, Saint Helena — USGS
- S.Korea reports 51 more COVID-19 cases, 11,719 in total
- 4 soldiers killed, 17 wounded in clash with rebels in southern Philippines
- Afghan fighting, roadside bomb kill 15 including 11 police in Badakhshan
- Cambodia may lose 3 bln USD in tourism revenue this year due to COVID-19 impact: minister
- Coronavirus pandemic to cost Australia over 348 bln USD over 10 years
- Colombia captures 50 people suspected of plant, animal trafficking
- Biden crosses threshold to clinch Democratic presidential nomination
- United States said diplomatic door with Iran remains open
- India reports highest daily spike of 9,887 cases as total reach 236,657
- Three killed in small plane crash in Southern California
- Britain, EU close new round of trade talks, little progress made
- Small plane crash in United States state of Georgia kills 5
- India’s Maharashtra state crosses grim milestone of 80,000 cases of COVID-19
- New Zealand has no new COVID-19 case for 15 consecutive days
- Bolsonaro threatens to withdraw Brazil from WHO
- New Zealand aims to eliminate COVID-19 against winter odds: ministry
- 6.2-magnitude quake hits Kazakhstan — local department
- People shop at reopened market in Bury, Britain
- 6.2-magnitude quake hits Kazakhstan — local dept. for emergencies
- Lima to host all Peruvian football matches after COVID-19 shutdown
- DPRK to withdraw from inter-Korean liaison office: KCNA
- Chile reports 122,499 COVID-19 cases with 1,448 deaths
- Street markets open for first time since lockdown in Moscow
- People buy fresh spot prawns in Richmond, Canada
- People perform Friday prayer with COVID-19 prevention measures in Amman, Jordan
- United States department store chain J.C. Penney announces to close 154 stores
- Full moon seen in Manila, the Philippines
- Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli soldiers over Israeli annexation plans
- Mexico unable to support OPEC with further oil production adjustment: president
- People collect recyclable items at garbage dump site in India
- Indonesian capital eases novel coronavirus-related restrictions
- People participate in anti-racism protest in Toronto, Canada
- People across world protest over death of George Floyd
- World Environment Day marked in Afghanistan
- UN chief asks entire world to change course on environment
- UN Security Council extends authorization of measures to implement arms embargo on Libya
- City in United States Louisiana prepares for approaching tropical system
- New York state governor unveils police reform agenda in wake of George Floyd death
- Feature: Turks become more willing to quit smoking over health concerns amid COVID-19 outbreak
- Trudeau joins anti-racism demonstration in Ottawa
- Fayemi mourns prominent Ekiti leader, Omotosho
- Roundup: FAO, European countries mark World Environment Day by calling for protecting biodiversity
- “The World of Banksy” comes to Prague on exhibition
- UN voices concern over continued fighting in Libya
- COVID-19: Fidelity Bank donates N10m to Kano govt
- WHO warns of risks of COVID-19 explosion in South Asia’s densely-populated region
- Egypt, IMF reach 5.2-bln-USD credit deal to help Egypt against COVID-19 consequences
- COVID-19: Oyo CAN cautions Christians against flouting govt. directives
- Spotlight: United States jobless rate drops in May as economy reopens, road to recovery likely bumpy
- Head of Al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb killed in Mali by French forces: minister
- World Environment Day: Plateau commissioner decries indiscriminate dumping of waste
- Explosion hits northeastern Syria, killing 2 children
- Feature: Chinese bus company commits to keeping Cuban drivers safe during COVID-19 pandemic
- Abolishing agreements with Israel not to affect ICC’s probe in Palestinian territories: official
- NNPC alerts on fake diesel, urges motorists to avoid use
- UN preparing for gradual reopening of headquarters in New York: spokesman
- Polio eradication expertise backs Africa’s COVID-19 response –WHO
- Cate Blanchett reveals ‘a bit of a chainsaw accident’
- Greek gov’t aims for one in three new vehicles to be electric by 2030
- Lagos govt. charges religious centres on ”No face mask, No entry” guideline
- Whoopi Goldberg teams with Extinction Rebellion for climate change movie
- Gov. Makinde inaugurates Marble Mining Company board
- Churches, mosques remain shut as Ogun govt. studies re-opening guidelines
- German gov’t supports local fleece manufacturer to boost face mask production
- NiDCOM a major economic asset to Nigeria, says House Committee chair
- YSFON appreciates Gov. AbdulRazaq as he marks 365 days in office
- Light-Up Kwara: Company says project 90% completed, no dispute with Kwara Govt
- Buhari, Folarin mourn Oyo politician, Adelere
- Removal of fuel subsidy, price-fixing excites Atiku
- FG to enhance legal framework for Nigeria’s digital identity – Malami
- WHO excites over $8.8bn vaccine donation to GAVI
- PLSG rolls out activities to commemorate Democracy Day
- Finnish researchers depict full gene structure of Nordic reindeer
- Lagos Police arrest man kissing minor in viral video
- Rape: Coalition wants establishment of DNA to enhance investigation
- German police attempt to break up anti-racism rally in Hamburg
- House of Representatives set to investigate privatisation of power sector
- Iraq signs 2-year deal to continue importing electricity from Iran
- Trump directs United States troops reduction in Germany: media
- Control of COVID-19 through waste management, our priority – Gombe commissioner
- Greece officials, shipowners expect closer ties with China
- Lebanese gov’t to inject 400 mln USD to support industry, agriculture
- Oman reports 770 new COVID-19 cases, 15,086 in total
- Buhari approves Danbatta’s reappointment as NCC’s boss, says Minister
- Diri calls for joint action from Niger-Delta governors for cleaner environment
- EU to launch 8 new environmental actions with local groups in Lebanon
- COVID-19: WHO publishes updated guidance on use of masks
- Dortmund’s Sancho, Akanji, fined for getting haircuts without face masks
- COVID-19: Refugee Commission distributes farm inputs to 100 farmers in Kano
- LASWA to improve response time to emergencies — GM
- Urgent: 5.0-magnitude quake hits 514 km WNW of Longyearbyen, Svalbard and Jan Mayen — USGS
- 2030 Agenda: NSE boss urges West Africa to embrace green bond finance
- China, Serbia sign memorandum on space technology
- 20 ships laden with petroleum products, food items awaiting to berth — NPA
- Israel exploits United States partiality, coronavirus to impose annexation plan: Palestinian official
- Man, 27, arraigned over alleged assault
- Remain vigilant on COVID-19, group urges govt, public
- Cairo airport to receive 23 flights carrying Egyptians stranded abroad amid COVID-19 pandemic
- World Environment Day: NNPC expresses commitment to biodiversity
- World Bank to fund Maputo urban transformation project
- World Environment Day: Oyetola warns Osun residents against environmental degradation
- Africa’s COVID-19 cases over 168,000 – WHO
- WHO recommends wider use of face masks to curb COVID-19
- COVID-19: Red Cross supports 20,000 vulnerable households in 4 states
- Hundreds join “Black Lives Matter” march in Lithuanian capital
- Court acquits man, 52, of attempted homosexuality
- Washington mayor asks Trump to remove federal forces
- Denmark to gradually ease social gathering ban
- Police in Adamawa kill 2 suspected cattle rustlers, recover 15 cows, 171 sheep, rifle
- Vietnam league restarts with packed crowds as coronavirus risk abates
- Ethiopia to plant millions of trees in spite COVID-19 pandemic
- Osun Govt mobilising available resources against COVID-19- Deputy Governor
- EU countries agree on coordinated, non-discriminatory lifting of travel ban
- Turks protest in Istanbul against police killing of unarmed United States black man
- African innovators launch platform to enhance linkage with industry
- Kebbi Assembly tours abandoned projects
- Ekiti Police Command parades 11 suspects
- Florence mayor calls for help for city revival
- Roundup: Palestinians hold mass rallies against 53 years of Israeli occupation
- Delta Govt. appoints state index, Austin Eruotor, as COVID-19 ambassador
- COVID-19: OYSG to open 100-bed isolation centre in Saki
- Ondo varsity says no staff tested positive for COVID-19
- UN launches new climate initiative on World Environment Day
- Albanian president appeals for more efforts on environment protection
- Ghana’s COVID-19 cases exceed 9,000
- Kenya’s tourism stakeholders mull safety measures amid COVID-19 pandemic
- Make Lagos more natural, greening, Expert urges Govt, corporate bodies
- Germany’s GDP to shrink by 7 pct in 2020: central bank
- United States withdraws plans to ban Chinese airlines
- I-G deploys detectives to unravel bank, police station attack in Kogi
- Profit taking: Nigeria stock market down N155bn
- COVID-19: NGO takes sensitization campaign to market, community, women leaders in Kaduna
- Ghana holds memorial event to honor George Floyd
- Hong Kong’s status as int’l financial center not to be affected: HKEX chief
- UNEP says investing in biodiversity protection to help post-COVID-19 recovery
- Interview: CABI expert sees “strong commitment” in ecological conservation in China
- D.C. mayor asks Trump to withdraw federal law enforcement, troops dealing with protests
- Dissolution of Zamfara LG councils unconstititional – APC
- German gov’t supports local fleece manufacturer to boost face mask production
- LASG calls for preservation, restoration of Biodiversity
- FCT COVID-19 team says has not abandoned duty
- COVID-19: 80 Kwara Rapid Response officers test negative – Commissioner
- One new coronavirus death confirmed in Spain
- Chinese workforce solutions provider Quhuo files for United States IPO
- Kenya pledges to expand green areas
- COVID-19: Enugu Govt calls for prayers, as religious group donates palliative
- COVID-19: Coalition private sector donations given to isolation centres
- Police arrest curfew violators conveying 91 passengers, 24 goats, 14 motorcycles in Kaduna
- Group decries loss of over N5m worth of rice to movement restriction
- Roundup: Experts root for deepening South-South cooperation in fight against COVID-19
- Finnish gov’t strengthens role of public healthcare in reform
- COVID-19: Lagos begins home-based treatment of patients in 2 weeks
- Libya’s UN-backed government reports new advances against rivals
- Air Chief urges pioneer NAF nurses to be discipline, proficient
- Chinese advised against traveling to Australia
- Muslims attend Juma’at in Osogbo after weeks of worship centers shutdown
- 1st LD: UK COVID-19 deaths top 40,000 as another 357 patients die
- Lebanon’s number of COVID-19 infections rises to 1,312
- Police command in Ogun arrests lovers for faking kidnap
- Runsewe advocates use of culture as therapy against COVID-19
- Airline SAS to resume more flights to Europe after COVID-19 halt
- Paris police ban protests at United States Embassy, citing health restrictions
- UK, EU need to conclude negotiation “in good time”: UK chief Brexit negotiator
- Singapore to build vaccine manufacturing capacity in fight against COVID-19: PM
- S. African president promises to address staff shortages in COVID-19 epicenter
- World Evironment Day: Kano State Govt. to promote policy on environment and pollution
- Filed bankruptcies in Germany see moderate increase: IWH
- Beijing lowers COVID-19 emergency response to third level
- Kenya bans single-use plastic in parks, public spaces
- Expert urges journalists to embrace data journalism
- Saudi Arabia to re-impose strict measures against COVID-19 in Jeddah
- Life coach counsels mothers on official work, child care
- Canada’s unemployment rate hits record high in May
- Roundup: Tech giants to help boost output of antigen test kits as Japan ramps up testing methods
- Construction accident kills 2 in Ghana
- Nigeria will miss late Olumilua’s wealth of experience – Ekiti Rep
- UN-backed gov’t announces takeover of rival army’s last stronghold in western Libya
- Seven killed in shooting in United States state of Alabama
- 2nd LD Writethru: United States unemployment rate drops slightly in May as economy reopens
- Singapore reports 261 more COVID-19 cases
- 13 vessels expected at Delta ports- NPA
- Air traffic at Morocco airports down 12.6 pct in Q1
- Switzerland pledges support in protection of vulnerables, girls in Nigeria
- Foundation seeks declaration of state of emergency on sexual, gender-based violence
- Finnish finance minister announces resignation
- Matawalle dissolves, reappoints local council chairmen as sole administrators in Zamfara
- Tokyo 2020 vice president unsure whether Games can be held in 2021
- Dearth in javelin talent worries Yego as he aims for Tokyo gold
- Germany’s biggest health insurer reports rise in prescription drug spending before lockdown
- Urgent: UK COVID-19 deaths top 40,000 as another 357 patients die
- UK TV audience feast on Chinese culture show during lockdown
- AirAsia Philippines to slash 12 pct of staff due to COVID-19 impact
- Ethiopia’s COVID-19 tally surpasses 1,805 as record 169 new cases confirmed
- 1,754 new COVID-19 infections detected in Qatar, 65,495 in total
- UN agencies launch response plan to help flood victims in Somalia
- 2 drivers docked for alleged assault, theft of phones
- ‘Abe-Igi’ to wear new look – National Theatre management
- Okota Rotary Club empowers women, donate ICT, first AID kits to schools