Austrian shoe chain apologises for ‘pre-lockdown sale’

Following a heavy backlash on social media, an Austrian shoe store chain apologised for a pre-lockdown sale which prompted accusations of irresponsible behaviour.

Austrian shoe chain apologises for 'pre-lockdown sale'
Photo: DPA

“There is no way to sugarcoat this. We apologise!” the Humanic shoe store company, which operates more than 60 stores in Austria and dozens more abroad, said on its Facebook page Monday.

Pictures of long lines outside one of Humanic's stores in Vienna on Saturday had prompted outrage online.

With a soaring number of coronavirus infections and hospitals warning of looming  exhaustion of intensive care resources, the government has imposed a second lockdown which will start on Tuesday.

Humanic initially thanked people for flocking to its stores and defended its pre-lockdown sale as an effort to “make people happy”.

The backlash was swift, with close to 2,000 comments on one Facebook post.

Austria's coronavirus lockdown: Under what circumstances can I leave my apartment? 

“I hope Humanic management donates some of today's revenues to its employees' healthcare costs, to ventilators for hospitals and a few funerals,” one user wrote, while another commented: “Unbelievably irresponsible! Shame on you!”

Humanic admitted on Monday that the special sale had been “short-sighted”.

Two major furniture stores, Kika and XXXLutz, ran similar ads promising discounts of up to 50 percent on Monday, the “very very last chance” to shop in store before the lockdown comes into effect.

One XXXLutz branch in the province of Salzburg draw the ire of the governor for luring thousands of customers to a re-opening with special discounts on Saturday, causing traffic jams that stretched to the motorway exit.

Though legally allowed, the event was “extremely provocative and insensitive,” the governor, Wilfried Haslauer, said.

On Vienna's main Mariahilfer Strasse shopping street on Monday, customers could be seen waiting outside stores to take advantage of the last shopping day before lockdown, despite the risks.

“I still have to do some shopping for Christmas and since it's unclear how long the lockdown will last, I hope I can find something today,” shopper Brigitte told AFP.

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EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

Austria's capital city Vienna has begun registration appointments for those who want to get a monkeypox vaccine. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

As of September 9th, people can make reservations for monkeypox vaccination in Vienna, authorities announced. It is possible to register for the vaccine using the health service line by calling 1450 or via the Impfservice website.

The City of Vienna has said the pre-registration is needed because all planning will be done through a central system due to a shortage of vaccines.

“Please understand that due to the vaccine shortage, we cannot offer preventive monkeypox vaccination to everyone interested. We can use the reservation platform to quickly allocate available appointments and contact interested parties as soon as there are more vaccines”, the authorities said.

After the registration, people will be contacted to book appointments on September 14th. The first available date will be September 19th.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Who should be vaccinated against monkeypox?

Vaccination of the general population is currently not recommended.

Preventive vaccination is only offered to health care workers with a very high risk of exposure to people with monkeypox (designated monkeypox departments/outpatient clinics/offices) and persons with individual risk behaviour (persons with frequently changing sexual contacts), the City of Vienna said.

The health authorities in Vienna also have a specific information sheet in English with more information on the disease.

Monkeypox is a notifiable disease caused by a virus closely related to the smallpox virus and which can cause a condition similar to smallpox but rarely deadly. People with immunodeficiencies, pregnant women and children are at risk of more severe symptoms.

The virus spreads from person to person through contact with infectious skin lesions, via air droplets through speaking, coughing, sneezing, or other body fluids, and when having prolonged and close physical contact, e.g. through sexual intercourse.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Usually, the first symptoms show up 5 to 14 days (at the latest, 21 days) after exposure. These include fever, general exhaustion, headaches, muscle and body aches, gastrointestinal problems and frequently painfully swollen lymph nodes.

“If you have symptoms and have had contact with someone with monkeypox, you must self-isolate at once and call 1450. If you have a confirmed monkeypox infection, you need to stay in self-isolation until the last crust has fallen off”, the Austrian authorities added.