While Austria has announced it will wind back coronavirus measures on May 19th – including allowing bars and restaurants to open and removing the quarantine rules – Vienna is less certain.
Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig has questioned the plan, saying he wants to find some “middle ground” between the nationwide plan and his desire to open up more slowly.
“So it will certainly be a middle ground, combining the desire to open up with responsibility for the safety and health of the population,” said Ludwig.
“We want to take these steps carefully, intelligently and sustainably.”
A decision is expected in the early afternoon.
Austrian media reports that an extension of the existing measures by at least two weeks is likely, with an opening date of either May 31st or June 2nd.
Another possible option will be to allow restaurants and bars to only open up their outdoor areas. Under the current plan, both indoor and outdoor areas will be allowed to open from May 19th.
This option has however been rejected by representatives of bars and restaurants in Vienna, who say it will unfairly impact places with little or no terraces.
“If we are only allowed to unlock outside, it will not work. On the one hand, half of the restaurants have no outdoor areas, for many others the outdoor areas are too small to be profitable on their own,” said Peter Dobcak, the head of the gastronomy association of Vienna.
Dobcak said Viennese residents would simply go to the neighbouring state of Lower Austria, which would damage the Vienna economy and provide no epidemiological benefit.
“Most of the restaurants will not open and the Viennese will move to the surrounding area.”