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UPDATED: How much will mandatory FFP2 masks cost in Austria?

From Monday, January 25th, FFP2 masks will be mandatory in public transport and supermarkets across Austria.

UPDATED: How much will mandatory FFP2 masks cost in Austria?
A sign says 'FFP2 masks available' in German. Photo: DAVID GANNON / AFP

FFP2 masks will be required all across Austria from Monday, with retailers promising to sell them at 'cost price'. But how much does 'cost price' cost? 

How much will FFP2 masks cost in Austria?

Worried about the additional costs this will put on people – many of whom are already struggling due to the pandemic – the government has struck a deal with major retailers to ensure that the masks are sold at cost price. 

While initially there was confusion about how much ‘cost price’ actually was, Austrian Chamber of Commerce chairman Rainer Trefelik told Austrian media on Monday that FFP2 masks will be available for one euro. 

Spar, Lidl, Hofer and Rewe confirmed that they would not take any profit from the sale of the masks, with a spokesperson from Rewe saying the masks would be made “as cheap as possible”. 

The downward pressure on the cost of the masks increased further on January 19th when the government announced VAT would no longer be required. Previously, masks attracted a VAT of 20 percent. 

On Thursday, January 21st, retailers Hofer and the Rewe group (Billa, Merkur, Penny, Bipa, Adeg) promised that the masks will be sold for 59 cents each

To prevent panic buying, customers will only be allowed to buy a maximum of five masks – or one pack of ten. 

FFP2 masks to be mandatory in public transport and shops

Previously, cotton masks or scarves were sufficient to satisfy the regulation. 

Austria put in place a range of stricter rules after a meeting on January 17th, including extending the lockdown until February 7th. 

READ MORE: Austria extends lockdown until February 7th

While FFP2 masks are more expensive than standard medical masks, the government has promised that they will be available to Austrians at cost price. 

People on low incomes would be entitled to the masks for free, a government spokesperson said. 

The retailers also indicated that there would be no issues with supply, even as demand is set to spike as a result of the new law. 

“Any mouth and nose protection is good, but the FFP2 mask is massively better,” said Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) on Sunday. 

FFP2 masks offer better protection against the coronavirus and other pathogens, with up to 94 percent of aerosols filtered out. 

People under the age of 14 will not be required to wear masks. 

 

Member comments

  1. Does anyone know if these masks can be worn more than one day…or several times during a single day> Any information regarding these questions will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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COVID-19

Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Austrians expressed shock and anger this week over the suicide of doctor who had been the target of a torrent of abuse and threats from anti-vaccination protesters.

Austria in shock over doctor's suicide following anti-vax abuse

The bells of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral rang out in memory of Lisa-Maria Kellermayr on Monday, and hundreds of people held a candle vigil outside, after the 36-year-old doctor was found dead at her practice on July 29.

She had long been the target of death threats because of her criticism of the widespread anti-lockdown protests of 2021.

An autopsy later confirmed that Kellermayr had taken her own life.

Austria has found itself deeply polarised over coronavirus restrictions and in particular a government policy –subsequently dropped — of making vaccination against the coronavirus compulsory.

Kellermayr — whose practice was in the region of Upper Austria where immunisation rates are particularly low — had frequently complained of the menace.

“For more than seven months, we have been receiving… death threats from those opposed to coronavirus measures and vaccinations,” she wrote at the time, sharing a message from one internet user who said they would pose as a patient in order to attack her and her staff.

She described how she had “invested more than 100,000 euros” ($102,000) in measures to ensure her patients’ safety and was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Then, at the end of June, Kellermayr announced on her professional website that she would not be seeing patients until further notice.

Daniel Landau, who organised a memorial vigil for her in Vienna, said that Kellermayr had become a virtual recluse for several weeks. “She didn’t dare to leave” her office, Landau told AFP.

Fanning the aggression

On Saturday, the head of Austria’s doctors’ association, Johannes Steinhart, said that while aggressive behaviour towards medical staff was not new, it had been “fired up and noticeably aggravated” by the debate over Covid-19 and vaccines.

The police, who had previously suggested Kellermayr was exploiting the situation for attention, insist they did everything to protect her. The local prosecutor’s office also rejected suggestions it could have done more.

“As soon as we received the police report (identifying one of the suspects), we sent it over to the relevant authorities in Germany,” spokesman Christoph Weber said.

On Friday, prosecutors in the neighbouring German state of Bavaria said a 59-year-old suspect was being investigated by a specialist hate speech unit.

At the beginning of the week, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen visited the small town of Seewalchen where Kellermayr lived to lay flowers in her memory.

After news of her death broke, he had appealed to Austrians to “put an end to intimidation and fear”.

‘They’re gagging us’

But on some Telegram groups, the hateful messages continue.

“Some people are celebrating her death; others believe the vaccine killed her,” said Ingrid Brodnig, a journalist and author who investigates online disinformation.

“Stricts laws exist” already against online hate, but not enough is done to implement them, Brodnig said.

One government minister has floated the idea of a separate prosecutor’s office to target such cases. Doctors and researchers have also been targeted elsewhere.

French infectious disease specialist, Karine Lacombe, described how she had been vilified for her work as part of a collective of doctors combatting coronavirus-related disinformation.

She, too, complained that the response from the authorities in the face of threats was not robust enough, and has scaled down her public appearances this year.

“You end up thinking that the risk isn’t worth it,” she told AFP. “In that sense (the aggressors) have won, they are gagging us,” she said.

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