The Head of the trade branch of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce claims people can safely go visit Austria’s retail shops during the pandemic without facts undermining his statement.
On October 27th, Rainer Trefelik, spokesperson for the trading branch in Austria’s Chamber of Commerce, sent out a press release, in which he claimed: “There is every indication that shopping in Austrian retail shops is safe. There is no indication that the infection rate in retail is higher than on average.”
When we contacted the Chamber of Commerce to find out what their sources were, they pointed us to an analysis of the development of Covid-clusters on the website of the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES). We were told that the analysis would show no signs of higher infection rates in retail shops than anywhere else.
Reading the analysis, we noticed there simply were no figures at all concerning the infection rate in retail shops.
So, we wrote an email to the Agency, asking them to confirm or contradict the spokesperson’s statement. We got the response that they, at the time, did not have the capacity to answer any questions regarding their analysis.
We found however no clues about the infection rate in retail shops being part of the analysis and were therefore unable to check if Mr. Trefelik’s statement was true.
We confronted the Chamber of Commerce with the lack of data in the analysis, which they cited as their primary source. Up to this day, we have not received any further comment.
On November 5th, the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) stopped doing any more cluster analyses. Due to the fast spread of the virus, contact tracing is no longer possible for several administrative bodies.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Maria Knipps-Witting and Georg Seebacher, University of Applied Sciences for Management and Communication, Vienna, AT
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