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The Austrian government announced Monday a “pub package” of 500 million euros (541 million U.S. dollars) to boost consumption and ease the tax burden on bar and restaurant owners.

As planned, the catering business can reopen on Friday with the low number of new infections as a good basis, said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at a press conference on Monday, announcing a “pub package” as part of the existing aid fund of 38 billion euros (41 billion U.S. dollars).

“Gastronomy is part of the Austrian soul and part of the Austrian identity,” said Kurz, calling on the public to “consume” and “support the regional economy”.

The package is all about relief, said Tourism Minister Elisabeth Koestinger who presented the details of the plan at the press conference.

Among other things, starting from July 1, the sales tax (VAT) for non-alcoholic drinks will be reduced to the minimum rate of 10 percent, the sparkling wine tax will be abolished, the tax flat rate will be increased from 255,000 euros (276,000 U.S. dollars) to 400,000 euros (433,000 U.S. dollars) for bars and restaurants, according to the minister.

This package will benefit about 41,000 companies and 145,000 employees all over the country, she said.

Chamber of Commerce chief Harald Mahrer said that tourism and inn culture are at the heart of the local economy, and it is a matter of turning the mood so that shopping and consumption are possible again.

“The economy has a lot to do with psychology,” said Mahrer.

As part of the federal government’s phased plan, bars and restaurants will be allowed to open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. from May 15, with restrictions such as wearing face masks by employees and a maximum of four adult guests per table.

Hotels may then reopen from the end of May, according to the plan.

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Source: Xinhua

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