Shops re-open as Austria takes first steps back to normality

Many Austrian shops on Tuesday re-opened under strict conditions, with the country among the first in Europe to ease coronavirus restrictions following 14 days of shutdown.

Small retailers such as bookshops and boutiques, as well as garden centres and hardware stores, were allowed to re-open provided they would follow strict hygiene rules.

Among other things, customers must wear face masks and use a shopping trolley to maintain their distance from one another, limiting the number of people who can enter a shop.

The use of face masks is also mandatory for people on public transport, where passengers must respect social distancing rules.

Around 80 per cent of Austria’s independent retailers stand to benefit from the gradual loosening of measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, with 4,500 shops set to re-open in Vienna alone.

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However, opening hours were restricted from 7.40 a.m. (0540 GMT) to 7.00 p.m.

Meanwhile, retailers that allowed in too many customers could face fines of up to 3,600 euros ($3,940).

Austria has fared better than many other countries in the current coronavirus outbreak.

Infection numbers are relatively low, with a high recovery rate.

Hospital capacities have not been exhausted by patients with COVID-19, the potentially fatal disease caused by the virus.


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