Austria expects to spend 1.5-2 billion euros to help firms in COVID shutdown

FILE PHOTO: Austria's Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel gives the budget speech in front of the parliament amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vienna, Austria October 14, 2020.REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria expects to spend up to about 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in aid to replace much of the turnover of companies forced to close during a coronavirus shutdown this month, Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said on Friday.

“The costs will be roughly between 1.5 and 2 billion euros,” Bluemel told a news conference on the aid, which will provide firms with up to 80% of their sales a year earlier. Restaurants, bars and cafes are closed to all but take-away service until the end of the month. Theatres, gyms and museums are also closed.

($1 = 0.8441 euros)

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Edmund Blair