Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Austria: Government Makes Wearing Protective Masks for Grocery Shopping Mandatory to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

(Apr. 2, 2020) A decree issued on March 31, 2020, requires that people in Austria shopping in grocery and drug stores wear protective masks. The decree tightens restrictions already put in place to prevent or contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in Austria and adds additional measures. The measures must be implemented immediately or, at the latest, by April 6, 2020.

As of April 2, 2020, 92,190 people have been tested in Austria, with 10,927 positive cases. 158 individuals have died and 1,749 people have recovered.

The additional measures in the decree include the following:

  • Employees of grocery stores and drug stores are encouraged to wear protective masks.
  • Once protective masks become available, customers must be provided with them free of charge if they do not bring their own.
  • Customers may enter the premises only when wearing protective masks.
  • Employees of grocery stores must wear gloves in the customer areas; this does not release employees from the duty to observe hand hygiene.
  • Disinfectant stations must be placed at the entrance of the store.
  • The handles of shopping carts must be disinfected after each use.
  • Surfaces or other frequently handled items (such as freezer unit handles) must be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
  • Cash registers operated by employees must have protective plexiglass panels.
  • Floor markers must be placed in the cash register area to maintain proper social distancing of one meter.
  • The retail area must be designed in such a way that social distancing can be observed.
  • Shopping carts should be used to maintain the required distance while shopping or standing in line for the cash register.
  • The number of customers who can be present in the grocery store at the same time while still maintaining the required one-meter distance must be determined; once that number is reached, the principle of “one in, one out” applies.
  • Employees are requested to recommend contactless payment to customers.
  • Customers must be informed through appropriate notices or pictograms that they are not allowed to enter the premises if they are experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

Grocery stores and drug stores that are smaller than 400 square meters (about 4,306 square feet) are exempt from the new additional hygiene rules outlined above, but must abide by the general rules to protect against COVID-19, such as requiring that employees regularly and thoroughly wash their hands with soap, use disinfecting lotion, and practice respiratory hygiene, and that everyone in the store maintain a safe distance of at least one meter from each other.