Austria, like much of the world, is grappling with how to convince reluctant citizens to get vaccine against Covid-19 so the rest of the country can return to daily life.
While its government prepares to impose a lockdown for the unvaccinated, one business has settled on an unlikely incentive.
FunPalast, a brothel in the capital Vienna, has opted to inject some enthusiasm.
and Covid immunity — into its clientele by offering free access to anyone willing to get the jab on-site.
Speaking with NBC News in a phone interview on Thursday.
Christoph Lielacher, FunPalast’s chief executive, said the initiative started out as a clever “marketing idea.
but has since become an “absolutely serious” operation.
so it’s not a joke. It’s a perfect line for vaccination,” he said.
Those who want to get vaccinated at the brothel but aren’t interest in accessing its other services.
he said, can instead use their vouchers for access to the site’s fitness center.
COVID-19 vaccinations in Vienna:
A person holding a certificate waits for a Covid vaccination in a Vienna brothel.
Lielacher said he is not yet vaccinated himself due to hesitancy around getting the jab.
but that he requires all workers to be fully vaccinated and to get tested for Covid 19 twice a week.
And now, he said, ensuring customers get the jab is vital for business as Austria introduces a new vaccine
passport system that will block anyone without proof of full vaccination from entering a host of venues.
including restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, cinemas — and brothels.
he said, referring to the new passport system, which takes its name from the German words for “vaccinated” and “recovered.”
“Nobody is able to come to me if you have no vaccination,” Lielacher said.
The new rules come as the country has seen record-high cases this month, with nearly 12,000 new Covid cases identified on Thursday alone.
according to data from the Johns Hopkins University’s Covid-19 tracker.
On Friday, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced that the country would be implementing a lockdown for unvaccinated residents in two regions that have been hard-hit by the latest surge in cases.
Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe On Thursday.
Schallenberg had also warned that similar lockdown rules for the unvaccinated could be apply nationwide if Covid case numbers do not come down.
“I don’t see why two-thirds should lose their freedom because one-third is dithering,”he said, according to the Austria Press Agency..
For his part, Lielacher said he felt anxious about getting any of the vaccines currently available in Austria.
despite vaccines being deem safe and effective by health officials.
Still, Lielacher said he hoped others would get the jab to prevent businesses like his own from suffering.
FunPalast, which reopened in May after closing in November 2020.
has already “lost maybe 50 percent of our money” over the course of the pandemic, he said.
He said he hoped the brothel’s vaccine initiative, which will be running every Monday for at least the next five weeks.
will help turn things around.