COVID-19: Do I have to close my business?

On Sunday, Austrian authorities have announced multiple measures in order to reduce the risk of infection. Most entertainment and sports establishments, as well as stores and restaurants, have to close. What this means to your business and employees, can be read here.

In order to reduce the risk of infection for persons in Austria, Austrian authorities have announced multiple measures. This weekend the COVID-19 law has been introduced, in which immense impacts on the “social life” of citizens has been regulated. Of course, this also influences the economy and businesses. Certain restraining orders for places with client contact have been announced. This leads to many questions in regards to working and employment and how this can be implemented.

Currently, this restraining order concerns the client space of sales establishments, of service establishments, and entertainment and sports establishments in order to buy goods or use their services, as well as using sports and entertainment facilities. This is currently concerning the time frame from 16.03.20 up until 13.04.20.

Certain businesses, however, are explicitly excluded from this regulation, namely the ones being essential for daily (food) supply and infrastructure. The department of health has excluded following establishments from the above mentioned regulation:

  • Pharmacies
  • Groceries stores (incl. sales points from producers and farmer’s direct markets)
  • Drug stores
  • Shops selling medical goods, sanitary goods, and goods utilizing curation
  • Health and nursing service
  • Service for disabled persons
  • Veterinary services
  • Shops for animal food
  • Selling and service of security and emergency products
  • Emergency service
  • Agricultural trade
  • Petrol stations
  • Banks
  • Postal services
  • Legal service
  • Food delivery service
  • Public transportation
  • Tobacconist and newspaper stands
  • Hygiene and cleaning service
  • Waste management
  • Car repair and assembling shop

In this explicitly stated establishment client contact is still allowed.

While on Friday restaurants, cafes, and bars had explicitly the opportunity to remain open up until 3 p.m. (in order to provide lunch for the working people), this exception has been already amended on the weekend: They need to close entirely from 17.03.20 up until 13.04.20.

Only exceptions in hospitalities are found in:

  • Hospitals and sanatoriums
  • Mental asylums and elderly homes
  • Institutions of children and teenager care – incl. kindergartens and school
  • Institutions used for companies only, i.e. canteens, if they can be solely used by the employees

Additionally, following establishments can offer beverages and food, however, to their guests solely:

  • Accommodation establishments
  • Camping grounds
  • Public transportation

Furthermore, meal delivery service is excluded from this regulation as well.

For establishments, who are entitled to continue working resp. continue working without client contact, a minimum distance of one meter has to be considered. This also applies for public transportation (i.e. when the employee is commuting to work).

An employer should, however, check the possibility of offering „home office“ (i.e. working from home). This is dependent from the tasks the employee is performing, the technical setup, as well as consideration of certain security aspects. Our recommendation, anyway, is to set up a home office agreement with which employee – just to be legally safe.

Kindly consider that the situation in Austria changes dynamically. The above mentioned information is based on the status of 18.03.20. As soon as there are any updates, we will keep you informed.

Do you have questions about this or similar topics? We are happy to be there for you! 

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