Relaxation of the Coronavirus restrictions in Austria provides some initial relief for the nation’s economy. But what is the situation like in the most important wine export countries? The Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) did some research.

After Austria’s economic activity came almost completely to a standstill because of the Corona restrictions implemented on 16 March, all of Austrian commerce was able to open its doors again on 2 May – of course, in compliance with strict safety and security regulations. The hospitality industry is scheduled to follow on 15 May, and the hotel industry at the end of May. After suffering weeks of interruption to their most important sales channels, relaxation of these restrictions also means a bit of easier breathing for Austria’s winegrowers.

But what is the situation like in Austrian wine’s most important export markets? Are there any import restrictions? What restrictions are placed upon the hospitality industry, the wine trade, the hotel industry – and what of major events? Cooperating with ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA (www.advantageaustria.org) of the Austrian Economic Chamber, the AWMB has compiled relevant information for the following countries:

Europe

Germany

Switzerland

The Netherlands

Sweden

GreatBritain (UK)

Norway

Denmark

Finland

Russia

America

USA

Canada

Asia

China

HongKong

Japan

Europe

Germany

As of 13 May 2020

Due to the federal structure of the nation, Corona measures in place for Germany vary from state to state. In general, however, there are no nationwide Corona-specific import restrictions from Austria to Germany, and large events with over 1,000 participants are prohibited until the end of August. From 15 June the border between Germany and Austria is supposed to be opened completely.

In addition, a trend toward food deliveries and pick-up services can be confirmed across the country, but this can only make up a small part of normal sales – an estimated 10–30%, depending on the company. By the end of April, 115,000 of the 159,000 businesses in the hotel and hospitality industries had put employees on shirt-time work. Government support measures for small businesses include short-term operating grants, tax breaks (e.g. reduction of sales tax on food from 19% to 7% from July 2020 for a period of one year) and special Corona loans.

Specific to the wine trade, on the one hand the loss of bar and restaurant business led to a serious drop in sales for the wholesale sector, while on the other hand, online orders are increasing significantly, although this remains a niche-market in terms of volume. All in all, alcohol consumption in Germany increased; from the end of February to the end of March, a solid one-third more wine was purchased than in the same period in 2019. It is also predicted that the at-home consumption of wine will rise from an 81% share (2019) to 84.7% (2020).

In the following paragraphs you will find, as an example, supplementary information on the relaxation of Corona measures in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, since these two federal states are particularly interesting for direct deliveries from smaller Austrian wine producers, thanks to their locations directly on the Austrian border, as well as in the capital Berlin.

Bavaria: From 18 May onward, beer gardens and the outdoor seating areas of restaurants are allowed to be open until 8 p.m. As of 25 May, restaurants can stay open until 10 p.m.; hotels can also receive guests other than business travellers from 30 May. Bars, pubs and discos remain closed for the time being.

Baden-Württemberg: As of 18 May, the hospitality industry in Baden-Württemberg – both outdoors and indoors, as well as holiday apartments and campgrounds – can gradually open once more. In a further step, other accommodation facilities such as hotels and recreational parks will follow on 29 May.

Berlin: Cafés and restaurants will be allowed to reopen from 15 May if distancing rules, access restrictions and restricted hours of operation are observed. Hotels and guesthouses can welcome guests again from 25 May.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Düsseldorf is available to respond to detailed questions: duesseldorf@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Switzerland

As of 11 May 2020

There are no Corona-specific import restrictions in Switzerland.

Many Swiss restaurants have been offering take-away and delivery services since the closure brought on by the extraordinary pandemic conditions. From 11 May, restaurants and bars are allowed to reopen in Switzerland, subject to strict conditions similar to those in Austria. Financial support for the Swiss hospitality industry includes compensation for short-time work and special Covid-19 loans.

The wine trade is currently offering online wine tastings.

The hotel industry was excluded at the outset from the Swiss Federal Council’s decision to close down businesses, but it must comply with the recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health regarding hygiene and physical distancing.

Large events with more than 1,000 participants are prohibited until the end of August.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Zürich is available to respond to detailed questions: zuerich@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

The Netherlands

As of 11 May 2020

There are currently no Corona-specific restrictions on wine imports in the Netherlands. Many Dutch restaurants offer pick-up services and home deliveries, and many also prepare menus that only need to be cooked at home before serving. The hospitality industry will remain closed down until 1 June 2020, when cafés and restaurants will once more be able to offer outdoor seating, as long as guests can stay 1.5 metres apart. Restaurants and cafes will also be able to reopen their interior seating areas under certain conditions: a maximum of thirty persons (including staff), a distance of 1.5 metres between individuals, and visitors must reserve seating in advance. In addition, the proprietor will discuss with the customer in advance whether their visit involves any risk.

Provided that the virus remains under control, the number of visitors permitted to these establishments can be increased to 100 as of 1 July 2020. The same applies to the operation of restaurants in hotels and guest houses.

Financial support for the hospitality industry includes compensatory payments and reimbursement of wage costs, which will supersede the regulation governing short-time work.

In the Dutch wine trade, online sales were very strong before the crisis and are now even more popular. Smaller wine shops, in cooperation with the local restaurants, offer the delivery of wines selected to accompany the menus mentioned above.

In principle, hotels and guest houses are open for guests to stay overnight. Their restaurants remain accessible only for overnight guests and are otherwise closed until 20 May. Here, too, the government will announce the further timetable for reopening around 14 May.

Large events are prohibited until 1 September.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in The Hague is available to respond to detailed questions: denhaag@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Sweden

As of 11 May 2020

There are no Corona-specific import restrictions for wine. The hospitality industry remains open, serving at the table or offering take-away; proprietors of restaurants and bars should independently conduct risk-assessment and, for instance, increase the distance between individual tables. Restaurants and bars can apply for rent discounts, short-time work schemes or corporate tax deferrals.

Wine sales of the Swedish alcohol monopoly Systembolaget rose in March compared to the previous year, mainly due to a corresponding decline in consumption in restaurants. The number of customers in the individual Systembolaget shops was limited, and distancing rules in front of the entrances and at cash registers were introduced. In many parts of Sweden, online ordering with free delivery is now also possible via Systembolaget.

Although there are no nationwide closures in the hotel industry, it has suffered a sharp drop in sales, currently recording only some 10% of customary occupancy. Alternative usage approaches for rooms that have not been booked include renting for home office needs or to high-risk groups or, in some cases, repurposing them as mini-restaurants.

Gatherings and events with more than fifty persons are prohibited.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Stockholm is available to respond to detailed questions: stockholm@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Great Britain (UK)

As of 11 May 2020

There are no Corona-related restrictions on wine imports. The hospitality industry has been closed down since 23 March, and deliveries of food are gaining popularity among the population. Some restaurants have set up online food and beverage sales at short notice to relieve pressure upon supermarkets. On 10 May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first steps towards easing lockdown measures at the beginning of June, with the prospect of opening restaurants and cafes – offering outdoor seating – in July.

Financial support for the hospitality industry includes reimbursement of wages or deferral of tax payments.

In the retail sector, there was a 67% increase in alcohol sales during the week of 20 March, compared to the previous week. A strong increase in online orders is particularly noticeable in the wine trade. Online tastings are offered with increasing frequency, and help bring customers closer to the subject of wine.

Major events have been cancelled on a nationwide basis.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in London is available to respond to detailed questions: london@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Norway

As of 11 May 2020

There are also no Corona-specific restrictions on wine imports in Norway. In mid-March all facilities of the hospitality industry were closed down, except for those where guests could keep a minimum distance of two metres apart from one another. Enterprises offering takeaway and home delivery have so far enjoyed high demand. Taverns where no food is served can be reopened from 1 June under special regulations, as long as the distancing rule of at least one metre can be observed.

Violations of Corona rules in the hospitality industry led to Oslo banning the serving of alcohol on 22 March. This ban was lifted on 6 May, in connexion with specific safety regulations put in place.

The state supports the Norwegian hospitality industry financially – for example – by assuming part of the fixed costs for companies that experience significant sales declines due to the Coronavirus.

The Norwegian alcohol monopoly Vinmonopolet has discontinued home deliveries to help ensure that alcohol is consumed responsibly, but deliveries to the branch stores remain as usual. In total, Vinmonopolet has posted strong sales growth so far. For example, according to current figures, sales of Austrian white wines rose by 46% in March compared to March 2019, and sales of red wines by 34%.

Hotels were not obliged to close, but many have shut down on their own for economic reasons or in consideration of the applicable Corona measures.

Large events of over 500 attendees are prohibited until 1 September. As of 7 May, events in public spaces for up to fifty persons have been allowed once more.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Stockholm is available to respond to detailed questions: stockholm@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Denmark

As of 11 May 2020

There are no restrictions on wine imports due to the Corona crisis. Corona measures instituted by the government closed restaurants and bars on 17 March, but they are able to offer take-away or delivery services. Some restaurants or wine bars offer their bottled wines at discounted prices (street sales). Phase Two of the gradual reopening of Denmark began on 11 May. It also includes the restricted opening of restaurants, cafés and bars on 18 May, subject to certain specific guidelines. These are currently being formulated and will be published before that date. There may be restrictions on opening hours (limited evening hours and no late night hours) and on the number of guests, as well as guidelines prescribing physical distancing. Discotheques and nightclubs remain closed.

Financial support for the hospitality industry includes wages compensation for staff, and compensation for fixed costs.

In Denmark, where an affinity for online commerce already exists, many wine merchants operated online shops even before the crisis began. Others (especially smaller businesses) implemented these at short notice. Wine merchants with a high proportion of hospitality industry customers among their clientele, however, had to accept significant declines in sales. Austrian wines – offered mainly in the upscale restaurants – have been noticeably affected.
In the big cities in particular, some hotels have remained open, albeit to a limited extent.

In the course of Phase Three of reopening, the restriction on assemblies is to be increased from ten persons to thirty or fifty on 8 June, depending on how the Corona figures develop. Large events of more than 500 people are forbidden until September.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Copenhagen is available to respond to detailed questions: copenhagen@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Finland

As of 11 May 2020

There are no Corona-related restrictions on wine imports. Until 31 May the hospitality industry may only do business via delivery and pick-up services. Only beverages with a maximum 5.5% alcohol may be sold. According to current plans, the hospitality industry is to be reopened as of 1 June. Information about safety precautions, closing times, etc. is not yet known.

Sales of wine in the Finnish alcohol monopoly Alko increased strongly in March. Red wine increased by 20.1% and white wine by 14.1% compared to the previous year. Online wine sales, on the other hand, have declined somewhat since no companies are currently making online purchases. Wine importers suffered major losses because they largely supply the hospitality industry, and these deliveries have been shut down since the beginning of April.

Some 80% of hotels in Finland are closed due to lack of guests.

Large events with more than 500 people remain prohibited until the end of July.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Stockholm is available to respond to detailed questions: stockholm@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Russia

As of 13 May 2020

There are no Corona-specific restrictions on wine imports, but a drastic decline in wine orders can be observed overall. This is due on the one hand to closure of the hospitality industry and on the other hand to the decline of the ruble exchange rate. Some restaurants, especially in the big cities, offer food deliveries. There is currently no plan for the reopening of restaurants, cafés and bars; this can be expected to take place in stages, beginning in June at the earliest. Government assistance measures for the hospitality industry include deferrals of taxes and rent payments. Online orders of wine with subsequent sales to private customers have increased, but they do not compensate for the lost sales in the hospitality industry. The plan for a full restart of the hotel industry is currently not available; information about this is expected toward the end of May at the earliest.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Moscow is available to respond to detailed questions: moskau@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

America

USA

As of 13 May 2020

In general, there are no known Corona-specific import restrictions, and the traffic of goods is not affected by the entry restrictions into the USA. With regard to air transport, however, some companies (such as FedEx) are currently tacking on surcharges for shipments. Due to the lower volume of flights, some shipments cannot be transported immediately or as usual. The hospitality industry was closed nationwide for a period of several weeks, but is now gradually opening again, depending on the individual states. In New York, for example – with the continuing downward trend in the daily Corona figures – a four-phase concept for the reopening of the economy is to be implemented from 15 May; Restaurants (and hotels) should reopen as part of the third phase.

In the first weeks of the lockdown, American consumers placed 10% more food orders online through DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub & Postmates. Last month, the States of Maryland, New Hampshire and New York allowed restaurants and bars to deliver alcoholic beverages under certain circumstances. Like other companies with up to 500 employees, restaurants and bars can benefit from measures put in place under the CARES Act, such as special lending programs and emergency financial aid.

In the wine trade, a significant increase in online orders can be reported; from the beginning of March to the beginning of April these increased by 31% compared to the same period in the previous year. Likewise, sales of alcohol in American liquor stores and grocery stores rose some 25% from early March to mid-April. But a trend can be observed, that consumer purchasing is gravitating toward the less-expensive quality segment.
In the ​hotel industry, the timetable for reopening differs in every state. By the end of April, nearly eight out of ten hotel rooms nationwide were empty, and more than $18 billion in revenue had been lost. Most major events have been cancelled.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in New York City is available to respond to detailed questions: newyork@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Canada

As of 13 May 2020

There are no restrictions on wine imports. Most of the provinces have decided to close down the hospitality industry and almost all ‘non-essential’ enterprises. Around 52% of restaurants are closed – at least temporarily – and 800,000 people have lost their jobs. ‘National Takeout Day’ was launched as a stopgap measure: consumers are encouraged to order food every Wednesday from participating local restaurants.

The hospitality industry receives financial support within the framework of national assistance programmes, such as wage subsidies or support for extended short-time work.

Ontario’s alcohol monopoly LCBO remains open, but no longer delivers online orders to the consumer’s home – instead, delivery is made to the nearest post office. Online tastings with wine journalists in Canada also help bring consumers closer to the subject of wine.

Non-essential businesses will remain closed until 11 May, and the timetable for the coming weeks & months – also for events – will be announced in the next few days.

In Ontario, the emergency date was extended to 2  June.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Toronto is available to respond to detailed questions: toronto@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Asia

China

As of 11 May 2020

The import regulations for wine in the PRC have remained the same, however, due to the extremely restricted flight connections and reduced airfreight capacities, there can be major delays affecting the export of goods to China. Lockdown in the hospitality industry began in the last week of January, and ‘normal’ life in restaurants only returned with the first week of April. Fashionable addresses in particular recorded a large influx of clientele once more, while other restaurants served fewer guests. Food delivery services are frequently used and currently flourish. The service sector (hospitality, hotels & tourism) receives financial support in the form of a VAT exemption.

The wine trade saw growth in the online sector during the lockdown. In general, special price offers and rapid delivery service were employed to attract customers during this time. Some importers and merchants are currently organising special wine promotions in supermarkets or restaurants.

The hotel industry has also been reopening cautiously since the beginning of April and is promoting special programmes for currently expected overnight guests, which will be coming almost exclusively from within China.

Major events remain completely cancelled for the time being, although it may be possible to begin holding major events again in early autumn.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Shanghai is available to respond to detailed questions: shanghai@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Hong Kong

As of 11 May 2020

There are currently no Corona-related import restrictions on wine in the most important Asian wine hub. Restaurants in Hong Kong never had to close, but can only be operated under strict conditions. Food delivery services are currently experiencing a boom.

Restaurants receive financial support in the form of one-off support payments or subsidised loans.

The focus of wine merchants is currently on the Hong Kong consumer, who is often relatively familiar with wines and interested in the origin of the wine they are drinking. Wine tastings, which are generally very popular, are now often held in video format. In the supermarkets, however, it is striking that consumers now more frequently purchase less costly wines. All planned public events have been postponed until at least October, including Vinexpo, which is now scheduled to take place in February 2021.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Hong Kong is available to respond to detailed questions: hongkong@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

Japan

As of 12 May 2020

There are no import restrictions on wine.

The hospitality industry is offering more meal deliveries and expanded pick-up options. Restaurants can now also – as an exception – sell unopened bottles. The recommendation on restaurant closings or shortened opening times (serving alcohol until 19.00, closing time 20.00) stays intact in most prefectures until the end of May. An extensive aid package for businesses with declining sales is promised by the state.

The wine trade is trying to focus more on e-commerce. This also applies to a number of merchants selling Austrian wines, who are also supported by Austria’s Foreign Trade Office.

Most hotels are currently open, but the occupancy rate is only between 10–20%.

Major events have been cancelled until further notice; a timetable indicating any further course of action cannot be projected at the moment.

Further information

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Tokyo is available to respond to detailed questions: tokio@advantageaustria.org

Additional information from ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: www.advantageaustria.org

Back to Overview

NEWSLETTER

Be the first one to know the latest news in the world of Austrian Wine!

Erfahren Sie 1x im Monat Neuigkeiten vor allen anderen und sicher Sie sich die aktuellsten Themen aus der Welt des österreichischen Weins. • Hintergrundinformationen • Eventeinladungen • Gesetzesänderungen Noch nicht überzeugt? Sehen Sie sich hier unseren aktuellen Newsletter an.