Austrian supermarkets are running short of masks as customers complain that staff are even limiting the supply to older people who are deemed to be more at risk from COVID-19.
In the Austrian capital Vienna, supermarkets which had seen staff handing out masks at the start of the week had run out by Wednesday and staff told Newsflash they were waiting for new deliveries which would be distributed as soon as they were available.
The press spokesman at Rewe which runs the Merkur and Billa supermarket chains had not commented at the time of sending this report when contacted by Newsflash.
In several of their supermarkets however, customers were also seen shopping without any face masks and without being challenged by staff.
Many customers have resorted to making their own masks from scarves and other materials in order to comply with tough new regulations which meant face coverings have to be worn when visiting supermarkets.
Austrian newspaper Heute reported that young people were also being turned away when there were supplies in order to reserve them for older customers.
One 35-year-old customer of a supermarket in the city of Wiener Neustadt south of the capital Vienna complained that the masks were only being handed out when people were at the checkout, to ensure only paying customers were given them, and then in his case when he had paid, he was refused anyway because he was too young. The newspaper did not reveal which supermarket branch it was.
The man said: “I paid, and I asked for my mask, but I was then told by the cashier that they did not have enough and I was too young to get one, and I should try again tomorrow in case they had more.” The man said that it was clear that they supermarket had not run out as he could see them next to the til.
A spokesman for the supermarket confirmed to the newspaper that this was not policy, saying: “We made the masks available from Monday with one mask per person as long as supplies lasted.”
They added that they had not instructed staff to make a decision on who should get the masks based on age or any other factor.
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