Lockdown from Monday, vaccination compulsory from February – government extends aid for companies

After a tough struggle, the government and provincial governors have agreed on compulsory corona vaccination and a lockdown for all of Austria.

The closings should last a maximum of 20 days from Monday, with an evaluation after ten days. The mandatory vaccination should apply from February 2022. The agreement was presented by Federal Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) on the sidelines of the Governors’ Conference on Lake Achensee.

Government extends well-known aid to companies

Finance Minister Gernot Blümel and Labor Minister Martin Kocher (both ÖVP) promised the economy a continuation of economic aid for the lockdown period on Friday. “We use the tried and tested instrument case. This means we are quickly ready to go and the entrepreneurs get their money faster,” said Blümel. However, all funded companies must adhere to the COVID regulations, otherwise the aid must be repaid.

The Corona short-time work applies until the end of the year, so it covers the lockdown that has now been announced, recalls Kocher. How it will continue after that is still open. Now, however, it is still possible to reduce working hours up to a complete loss of work, with a net income replacement of 80 to 90 percent. From Monday, November 22nd, employees who fall into the risk group due to health restrictions will again have the opportunity to obtain a risk certificate and, if necessary, to have it released. This revives a determination that expired in the summer.

The right to exemption for pregnant women in body-related professions is still upheld anyway, and the special care time can also be used unchanged if a child is quarantined or falls ill with corona, recalls Kocher. The minister “recommends” companies to use home office.

There is also a cancellation bonus for companies in the event of a drop in sales of at least 40 percent compared to the same month of 2019, i.e. before the pandemic. 10-40 percent of the decline in sales can be reimbursed, up to a maximum of EUR 2.3 million instead of the previous EUR 1.8 million. The aid is valid from November 2021 to March 2022 and can be requested from December 16. The costs amount to up to 700 million euros per month.

There is also a compensation for losses in the event of a drop in sales of at least 40 percent compared to the same month of 2019. 70 to 90 percent of the loss can be replaced, a maximum of 12 million euros, instead of the previous 10 million. This applies from January to March 2022 and can be from January To be requested in 2022. The costs of the measure are still open.

If there is at least a 40 percent drop in income or if the running costs can no longer be covered, funds are available from the hardship fund. The replacement rate is 80 percent, plus 100 euros of the net loss of income. The subsidy runs until March 2022 and is between 600 and 2,000 euros. The measure costs 100 million euros per month.

There will also continue to be tax deferrals and reductions, announced Blümel.

Chamber of Commerce: “There is no alternative to economic aid that acts quickly”

After the nationwide corona lockdown announced this morning, the economy is calling for financial help. The President of the Chamber of Commerce, Harald Mahrer, and Secretary General Karlheinz Kopf spoke today of an “emergency stop before Christmas” and demanded: “There is now no alternative to economic aid that works quickly. It has already proven itself and must be used again.”

Regarding the announced compulsory vaccination from February 2022, the head of the Chamber of Commerce said: “The economy welcomes every measure that effectively contributes to increasing the vaccination rate. First and foremost, it is therefore important to provide comprehensive education across the population and well thought-out incentives for vaccination.” School closings, on the other hand, should not pose childcare problems for parents.

Understanding of the lockdown also prevails in the Federation of Industrialists (IV). IV President Georg Knill emphasized that care had to be taken “that the steps that have now been taken will not lead to any economic distortions to such an extent that the current recovery and the decline in unemployment will be sustained”. It is important that production is “kept running and supply chains are kept intact”.

“As an Austrian industry, we therefore support the decision that has now been made to make vaccinations mandatory,” the IV president clarified. To this end, “the rampant factual resistance and increasing hostility to science must be resolutely countered”. “The pandemic is a scientific phenomenon and can therefore be mastered with technology and natural science,” emphasized Knill.

Another lockdown for traders “historic catastrophe”

The renewed corona lockdown hits domestic retailers again in the beginning of the Christmas business. “It is a historic catastrophe,” said WKÖ trade chairman Rainer Trefelik to the APA. It is particularly bad that it “would have been avoidable”. From November 22nd, only shops for daily needs are allowed to keep completely open for three weeks, with the other retailers only “Click & Collect” and collection after pre-order is possible.

The shops for daily needs include supermarkets, drug stores and pharmacies, post offices and telecom shops. At the other dealers there is “great frustration and disappointment”, according to the WKÖ trade chairman. “It will meet us for the second time during Christmas sales.” There is also again the problem of the range delimitation that grocers and drugstores are now increasingly selling toys and toy stores are closed in lockdown.

The Chamber of Commerce and the trade association are pushing for comprehensive corona economic aid for traders. “A hard lockdown in the Christmas business means that essential parts of stationary Austrian retail are in existential jeopardy and, of course, their jobs,” said Retail Association managing director Rainer Will in a broadcast. In the industry there will be sales losses of around 2.7 billion euros, expects Will. The trade association is therefore pushing for the default bonus to be expanded and for new liquidity aids to stabilize trade.

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Image source: Hans RW Goksoyr /, Anna Stasia /, ffikretow @ /

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