In contrast to nearly every other country in Europe, Austria currently does not allow Schanigärten – areas outside the front of cafes, bars, and restaurants for customers to sit – to open until April.
Only Sweden, Poland, Slovakia and Romania join Austria in preventing establishments from putting tables and chairs outside in the wintertime.
A recent survey of 7000 gastronomy and cafe businesses in Vienna carried out by the chamber of commerce found, however, that six out of ten would also like to open a Schanigarten in winter.
After a consultation, the chamber of commerce has now come up with four options – ranging from just a few tables to fully opening the whole year round – which will be decided on at a political round-table on May 19th.
“It is simply not acceptable any more, that bar owners must align themselves with the calendar,” president of the chamber of commerce Walter Ruck told the Kurier.
“In February there were a few mild days. Many guests would have liked to eat in a Schanigarten but were not able to. Now in April the law allows them to but it is often too rainy and cold.”
Not everyone is happy with the idea of year-round opening, particularly in Vienna’s touristy first district where 400 of the city’s 1800 Schanigärten are.
Representative of the UNESCO World Heritage Site district Markus Figl (ÖVP) is against all of the four options, including the use of outdoor heaters.