Austria announced Wednesday a 38 billion euro ($41bln) rescue package to combat the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus as Chancellor Sebastian Kurz warned of a protracted fight against the pandemic.
While some details of the new measures are still being finalised, they include 15 blillion euros of aid for those sectors worst affected by the wide-ranging shutdown which came into effect this week in order to fight the pandemic.
There will also be nine billion euros of loan guarantees and 10 billion euros to enable deferred tax payments.
Austria has seen 1,646 cases of the novel coronavirus and five deaths.
Wednesday’s package is an expansion of four billion euros’ worth of help the government already announced last week.
Kurz said at a press conference announcing the measures that the government wanted to do “whatever it takes to save Austrian jobs” in the face of the crisis.
His deputy Werner Kogler said: “Without doubt we are dealing with the biggest crisis since the Second World War.
In an interview with the Krone newspaper, Kurz warned that it “would take a very, very long time” for normal life to resume after the stringent restrictions placed on public life this week.
“The world will look different after this,” he said, adding that the virus would have an effect over the long term “on the way we interact with each other and the way we live”.
He said he was “extremely grateful” for how Austrians had kept to the new rules but appealed for patience, saying “one or two days of such measures won’t be any use at all”.
He predicted that initial results from the shutdown would only be visible after a week.
He also directed criticism at the European Union over the crisis, saying: “We can see in Europe that when things get serious, solidarity doesn’t work.”
“There will have to be discussions about this after the crisis,” he said, without elaborating on his criticisms.