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.
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.