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Vienna to allow longer pharmacy opening times

Council officials in Vienna are planning to change the opening hours for the 350 city pharmacies after a pharmacist in the first district  won a legal victory for permission to stay open on Saturday afternoon and in the evenings during the week.

The change in the rules is being planned to make sure that the pharmacists have opening times that match other businesses, although the city's health spokeswoman Sonja Wehsely from the social Democrats said it was not planned that pharmacies would be forced to open if they did not want to.

Austria has tough rules governing store opening times and several major retail chains have attempted to have the laws relaxed to allow the example supermarkets or DIY stores to stay open on Sundays or to offer a 24 hour service – all without success.

The move to review pharmacy opening times follows a successful legal challenge by a pharmacist in the first district who like other pharmacists was forced to close at 12 o'clock on Saturday but managed to have the ruling overturned so that the store can stay open all day on Saturday.

The pharmacists lawyer Peter Krüger said it was a clear vote in favour of common sense as the rules governing pharmacies said when they need to be open but did not specify when they should be closed. The ruling also means that the pharmacy can be open after 6 PM on work days.

The proposed rule change will be sent for expert consideration of the legal implications in the next two weeks and then can be debated by councillors.

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