There are tentative plans for the Austrian government to allow restaurants with outdoor seating (Schanigarten) to open for outdoor dining from 27th March.
In Vorarlberg, restaurants with outdoor seating are planned to open from 15th March.
But will this go ahead – or could we be waiting longer?
What safety measures could be in place?
Newspapers report the opening will be based on the following requirements:
- A recent negative test result for coronavirus (not older than 48 hours).
- Customers wearing FFP2 masks when not seated,
- Waiters and waitresses wearing FFP2 masks.
- Only two households per table.
- A closing time of 20:00
- Distance between each table of 1.5m
What are the problems with the plans?
Coronavirus infections are rising rapidly and the number of intensive care beds occupied by corona cases has increased by 20 percent in one week.
Health Minister Rudolf Anschober has said he is “alarmed” by the latest figures, Der Standard newspaper reports.
However, Vienna’s Health Councillor Peter Hacker said if the vaccination program gathers pace, this could bring down the numbers in hospital.
The other fear is that Germany is considering using a similar test strategy to Austria’s to open up.
This could bring a shortage of antigen tests. Hacker says it could cause the tests to run out in “one swoop”.
The government will make its decision on 15th March on whether to open restaurants.
Do enough restaurants have outside areas for dining?
In Vienna there are around 3,500 outdoor eating areas spread out around its 9,000 restaurants.
However, some restaurants do not have large enough outdoor areas to justify opening without indoor dining, especially with distance rules, according to Der Standard.
Plan to use city parks in Vienna
Vienna’s mayor Michael Ludwig is considering using the Rathaus square, Karlsplatz, Danube Canal and the Stadtpark as outdoor dining areas for bars and restaurants with no outdoor dining areas.
He is also looking into the possibility of food trucks, he told broadcaster ORF.
Normally the Stadtpark is used every year for the Viennese Gourmet Festival, which gives a good idea how dining in the park could work in practice.