In view of the ongoing corona pandemic sidewalk cafés in Vienna will remain open this winter. While the joy in the gastronomy – and among its visitors – is great, this is now also causing criticism in view of the energy crisis: The reason is the heating sponges, which are supposed to keep the guests warm.
As the climate expert Jasmin Duregger from Greenpeace reports in the Ö1-Journal, five of these radiant heaters need as much gas per season as a single family house does in a year.
“The topic of energy is certainly a big problem. But you have to remember that the sidewalk cafés don’t open anyway when it’s raining or snowing,” said Wolfgang Binder, chairman of the coffee houses section of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. And further: “When the weather is nice, the heating pads are not used or only in an emergency. If necessary, the restaurateurs will provide blankets.”
“The price of energy will have to be accommodated somewhere,” Binder continued. The prices for food and drinks could thus be raised somewhat.
However, the city cannot enact a ban on heating sponges anyway. However, these must be verifiably operated with green electricity and be able to be switched off when not in use.
In the winter of 2021/22, more than half of Vienna’s restaurants kept their sidewalk cafés open over the fall and winter. City Councilor for Economic Affairs Peter Hanke (SPÖ) wants to “do everything to help Viennese entrepreneurs to continue to run their businesses successfully.”