Austrian grocers to hand out food rations during blackouts

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The emergency plan aims to provide critical supplies for citizens in the event of mass power cuts

Austria unveiled emergency measures on Tuesday to secure food and other essentials for people in the event of blackouts this winter.

The plan, published on the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism website, decrees that all grocery stores are to remain closed on the first day of a potential blackout.

On the second day, stores are to remain closed but act as centres from which bags of fresh produce will be given to residents, between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. 

Additionally, the stores will offer prepared bags with water, long-life bread, canned goods, convenience products, and candles to be sold for cash. Baby items and hygiene products will be made available on request.

From day three, only products from the dry range will be offered, for safety reasons.

All major Austrian retailers have agreed to the scheme, including Spar, Maximarkt, Billa, Penny, Lidl, Frisch, Unimarkt, M-Preis, and others.

Residents were advised to stock up on food with a long shelf-life and keep a 14-day supply at home, as well as to keep small denominations of cash in the amount of around €100 per family member.

The scheme was prepared in coordination with the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKÖ), the National Bank of Austria (OeNB), and the energy ministry, as well as representatives from the food retail industry and the association of Austrian municipalities (Österreichische Gemeindebund).

While officials stressed that the food supply in Austria is currently secure and the risk of a power shortage is “very low and unlikely,” they noted that “new potential challenges require timely preparation in order to be ready for a crisis.

Our food trade industry is a responsible one and has already proved its ability to overcome the crisis. The solution presented today in the event of a possible mass blackout is a model for the whole of Europe and shows that our food industry is ready for the crisis as part of the system of critical infrastructure,” the head of the association of food retailers Christophe Tamandl said, commenting on the plan.

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