Austrian gov’t requires people to wear masks in supermarket

Citizens wearing facial masks are seen in front of a supermarket in Vienna, Austria, on April 1, 2020. People have to wear a face mask before entering supermarkets, announced the Austrian government as part of some additional measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak on Monday. (Xinhua/Guo Chen)
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VIENNA, /Xinhua/

People have to wear a face mask before entering supermarkets, announced the Austrian government as part of some additional measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

“I am fully aware that masks are something foreign to our culture,” said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at a press conference with other government officials on Monday morning. “It will be a learning phase.”

Kurz emphasized that people should still keep their distance from each other, as wearing a mask can only “somewhat” reduce airborne transmission.

The situation in Austria at the moment is only “the calm before the storm,” warned the chancellor.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer stressed that all persons from risk groups should be released from work, all hotels are to be closed, and the social distancing should be rigorously enforced by the police.

The new actions taken by the government are based on the forecasts of scientists, who recommended “significantly stricter measures” to reduce the crucial metric R0 (the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person), according to Chancellor Kurz.

Scientists warned that under a “realistic” assumption of a R0 of 1.7, the Austrian health system would collapse in mid-April, reported the Austrian Press Agency (APA).

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Austria exceeded 9,000 on Monday with 108 deaths reported, according to local health authorities.

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