And back to the home office

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IIn Austria, many shopping streets and Christmas markets were well attended on Saturday. The trade association reported an average increase in sales of 15 percent compared to 2019. But customers weren’t looking for overpriced mulled wine or Christmas gifts everywhere – tens of thousands demonstrated against the three-week closure of hotels from this Monday due to the rampant corona pandemic , Restaurants, hairdressing and massage parlors as well as trade. The general compulsory vaccination announced from February also causes a lot of resentment.

Andreas Mihm

Business correspondent for Austria, East-Central and Southeastern Europe and Turkey based in Vienna.

Only shops for daily needs such as supermarkets, drug stores and pharmacies, tobacco and newspaper shops, post offices and telecom shops will remain open. “Click & Collect” and collection after pre-ordering is possible from the other retailers. For many this is a blow, especially at the beginning of the high-turnover Christmas season, restaurateurs are writing off Christmas parties for the second season in a row. The description of the situation as a “historical catastrophe” is making the rounds.

For employees, the following applies from Monday: Anyone who can work from home again. If you come to work anyway, you usually have to wear an FFP-2 mask. In the words of Labor Minister Martin Kocher (ÖVP): “I recommend all companies to use home office in the long term.” Nobody can be legally obliged to do so.

Short-time work allowance even with zero employment

Immediately after the government’s decision with the heads of government of the federal states, Kocher and finance minister Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) had to reopen their instrument box, which was already intended for the archive, to secure the lockdown financially. This includes: Risk groups such as pregnant women can be exempted from work with full earnings by means of a certificate, as was the case up to June, short-time work allowance of 80 to 90 percent of net income can also be paid out if the worker is not called up at all.

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State guarantees or the reduced VAT rate of 5 percent as in the catering industry – which this would like to see extended – are still running anyway. In addition, the default bonus is returned in the event of a drop in sales of at least 40 percent (based on 2019); it covers 10 to 40 percent of the failure, a maximum of 2.3 million euros. The loss compensation, which is intended to compensate for up to 90 percent of the loss of a maximum of 12 million euros, will also be extended until March. Cases of hardship are also covered and the duration of the fund set up for this is extended.

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