Shopping soon only with negative test

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What Health Minister Rudolf Anschober announced together with the three state heads on Wednesday evening sounds like a “nightmare” for trade association head Rainer Will. An Easter shutdown in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland from April 1 to 6. In addition to hairdressers and masseurs, stores will also have to remain closed.

The trade association has already extrapolated what this means for its retailers: “A loss of sales of around half a billion euros,” says Will. After all, around 10,000 stores in three Austrian states are again affected by the official closures.

For many, the lockdown came as a surprise, as government officials had emphasized only earlier in the week that retailers were not the driver of the infection. At least, from the traders’ point of view, worse could be prevented. In the end, there was also talk of a renewed lockdown in eastern Austria for two or even three weeks.

Access tests are coming
Health Minister Rudolf Anschober confirmed on Wednesday evening what many traders had already feared. Access tests for commercial transactions are planned. This requires an amendment to the Covid Act. The way for this is to be cleared today, Thursday, in the National Council or next Tuesday in the Bundesrat. According to Minister Anschober, the tests are to be finalized from April 7 – valid until April 10.

“If there are to be entrance tests in the trade, they must apply to all. Also for supermarkets and pharmacies,” makes trade chairman Rainer Trefelik clear. “Anything else would distort competition.” Moreover, in Trefelik’s view, the tests would otherwise make little sense. “Otherwise, only those who are already doing so would get tested again.”

Taking a positive view
If people can no longer go shopping at all without a negative test result, that could at least bring with it the chance to push down the incidence of infection, Trefelik tries to take something positive away from the idea. For retailers who have hundreds of customers a day, however, that also means increased control efforts at the entrance. In turn, Trefelik is calling for the 20-square-foot rule to be dropped. “After all, if everyone is tested, this is no longer necessary.”

Günther Rossmanith, Mango retailer on Mariahilfer Strasse and spokesman for the clothing retailers, illustrates what it would mean if supermarkets and drugstores were once again exempt from the rule. It would be easy to imagine where a perfume would be bought if it were available in drugstores without testing and in perfume stores only after a negative PCR test had been presented.

Planning reliability is lacking
For Michael Heinz, every lockdown is a logistical challenge. His family has been in the toy trade since 1956 and currently operates eleven stores. “The short-term nature of the measures is a challenge for us; after all, we have to coordinate deliveries and prepare duty rosters for the employees,” says the specialty retailer.

Next to Christmas, Easter is the strongest time for sales in the toy trade. “What we can’t sell in the lockdown is then in stock and has to be financed by us.” He says he can’t count on backlog purchases, after all, the gifts are bought before Easter.

  • with reports from kurier.at/picture: pixabay.com
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