Saturday, June 6, 2020

Austria wants to open more stores again in the corona pandemic

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I.n Austria is considering the government to open more shops soon. Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) said plans for slow start-up will be presented next week.

He did not specify a time for a possible loosening. The government would go step by step and consider where stores could be reopened first and with conditions. The risk of infection must be minimized as far as possible. Commercial businesses would have “good chances” to be there earlier than, for example, large sporting events.

The solutions are to be developed together with health professionals and economists. The dealers are currently talking about it, said the president of the semi-state chamber of commerce Harald Mahrer. The state cannot afford to stand still in the long run – a new normal is necessary so that people can pay their loans and rents again.

“We’ll see what we can say next week,” said Kogler. Health remains the top priority.

Less bonuses

With the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, drug stores and newsstands (tobacco shops), all shops and restaurants in Austria have been closed since March 16. In grocery stores that are larger than 400 square meters, wearing a mouth-nose guard is mandatory. Since then, exit restrictions have also applied.

“If we hadn’t done that, we would have blown up all our capacities these days,” said Kogler. The pandemic has not yet reached its peak.

On Friday, the government also specified the 15 billion euro emergency relief fund for companies, which is part of the 38 billion euro government aid package. The aid loans from the emergency aid fund, for which the state is liable with up to 90 percent, are limited to three monthly sales or 120 million euros. In addition, there can be a non-repayable grant of 90 million euros, which should cover up to 75 percent of the operating costs. It is about keeping the bloodstream going here in Austria, says Kogler.

Those companies that receive state aid in the corona crisis are not allowed to distribute dividends for at least one year. Kogler also announced that after paying state aid, bonus payments to managers would have to be cut to half the previous year’s level.

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