Corona-Lockdon number 2: From Tuesday, November 17th to Sunday, December 6th, only the shops necessary to maintain the basic supply will remain open in Austrian retail. And there is a discussion about what food markets are allowed to sell.
Shutters down, shops closed. In mid-November, the scenario known from spring is repeated for Austrian retailers. In order to get the rising number of corona infections under control, the federal government has ordered the closure of all shops that are not necessary for the basic supply for several weeks.
Even before the shops close, it’s already in Spring debates that were sometimes heated to rekindle the hand’s non-food range. While all specialist retailers are locking up, the large supermarkets will also offer household or hobby items as well as electrical and electronic products, sporting goods and DIY equipment in addition to food or drugstore goods.
The Billa, Merkur, Adeg and Penny brand chains belonging to the Rewe Group are an exception. “We do not want to make sales on the back of the dealers who have to close again in the second lockdown,” said Marcel Haraszti, CEO of Rewe International and Billa Merkur Austria, in a broadcast. One will “of course only offer the product groups typical for the food trade”. “We also urge our colleagues in the grocery trade to follow this path,” said Haraszti in the direction of the competition.
Debate about the “typical” range
However, the competitors – Spar, Hofer and Lidl – do not want to limit their range in the corona lockdown.
As soon as the COVID-19 Emergency Measures Ordinance comes into force, supermarket chains and discounters are only allowed to offer their “typical range of goods”, but the hypermarkets claim that the additional non-food offer is part of this typical range of goods.
“A restriction of the ranges that have been customary at Interspar Hofer and Lidl Austria for decades would be unlawful and unconstitutional,” the dealers explain in a joint broadcast. For the basic supply of the population, these ranges would continue to be sold during the lockdown. “This approach has been examined in detail from a legal point of view,” the statement said. “If Spar, Hofer and Lidl were banned from selling non-food ranges, they would not receive any compensation.”
The chains continue to argue that according to the COVID-19 Measures Act, the health minister could order shops to be closed. However, he has no authorization to restrict the range of products to those who have opened. “In addition, a range restriction in the food trade is unconstitutional because this would be a competitive measure and a restraint of competition.” for a restraint of competition. “
Provisions of the Emergency Ordinance
With which Spar, Hofer and Lidl, however, question or ignore the legal justification of the COVID-19 Emergency Measures Ordinance.
In the justification, the “typical range of goods” is defined as follows: “For example, in mixed businesses that fall under Z 2 (food trade), only goods within the meaning of paragraph 4 (i.e. for the purchase of food, sanitary articles, animal feed) but not toys, flowers or electrical appliances. “
It is explicitly stated: “This is intended to avoid an unobjective privileging of the mixed companies exempted from the entry ban compared to the business premises covered by the entry ban.”