Austria’s response to COVID-19Maleeha Azhar
Starting May 1st, the COVID-19 Relaxation Ordinance requires one meter distance between people in public places (More info). In addition, covering the face is imposed in closed public places such as shops or other business premises. Also, business operators must ensure 10 m² per customer in the premises. Any public event including cultural and sportive events that gathers more than 10 people is prohibited. Entry to Austria is still restricted and is only permitted at certain border crossings and is subject to certain conditions such as having a medical certificate (See here).
The Government has published support measures for companies, including a hardship fund of 1 billion euros for small businesses, EPUs, non-profit organizations, and freelancers (See here). Employees who cannot work remotely could, to a certain extent, be forced to use their vacation entitlements and time off credits.
A ‘COVID 19 crisis management fund’ was created on March 15th to provide the federal ministries with financial resources for taking the necessary measures against Covid-19 (More info). These measures may include those that are necessary to stimulate the economy. The Law also gives employers, in the event of the company’s closure, the option to offer employees a limited remuneration, as well as time off to take care of their children or other dependents. The Government has also provided exceptions in certain sectors to weekend and holiday rest (More info).
Employers should continue to check with relevant authorities for the latest information:
– Official Journal (https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Bgbl-Auth/)
– Recommendations and guidelines (https://www.sozialministerium.at/Informationen-zum-Coronavirus/Coronavirus—Fachinformationen.html)