The Epidemic Act (Epidemiegesetz) has been in force in Austria since 1950 and, therefore, might not be flexible enough to deal with the COVID-19-Pandemic. Although the COVID-19 laws, which were passed in Austria in the last few days, provide for extensive aid measures with a total volume of EUR 38 billion, they do not grant entrepreneurs a legal claim to a payment for compensation resulting from the ordered shutdown against the state. This is the main difference to the Epidemic Act in force, which provides for such a legal claim for compensation.
However, the Epidemic Act is only applicable to those enterprises that have been closed down on the basis of ordinances or by decisions of the district administrative authorities. Mainly cableway infrastructure and winter tourism enterprises in Voralberg, Tyrol, Salzburg and Carinthia are closed down by such ordinances or decisions. They have a legal claim to compensation for loss of earnings resulting from the close down according to the Epidemic Act.
All other entrepreneurs who had to close down their businesses as a result of the nationwide decree of the Minister of Health are not compensated under the Epidemic Act. They are to receive benefits from the COVID-19 crisis fund or other assistance from the government’s COVID-19 aid package.