Austria’s President Caught Breaking Coronavirus Curfew, Admits ‘Mistake’
Austria has been the first country in the EU to start relaxing the lockdown but a number of restrictions remain in place, including the 11 pm closing time for restaurants and cafes.
Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen has issued an apology after being caught by police breaking the country’s coronavirus curfew.
The 76-year-old President was spotted by police on the outside dining area of an Italian restaurant in Vienna shortly after midnight on Sunday, local media report, as cited by BBC News.
Austria was the first country in Europe to begin relaxing the lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak, as early as April 14.
It was also one of the first in Europe to introduce a strict lockdown, as of March 16, 2020, not long after Italy, the worst hit EU country.
Austria’s current relaxed coronavirus lockdown rules state that restaurants and cafes, which were allowed to reopen last week, must close no later than 11 pm.
During the day on Sunday, Austrian President Van der Bellen apologized on Twitter for violating the coronavirus curfew. He admitted he had lost track of the time while speaking with friends at the said Italian restaurant in Vienna.
“I went out for the first time since the lockdown with two friends and my wife. We then lost track of the time while chatting,” the Austrian President wrote.
“I’m sincerely sorry. It was a mistake,” he declared.
Van der Bellen added he would “take responsibility” if the owner of the restaurant suffers any losses as result of the incident.
His Twitter post also linked to an article in the Kurier newspaper according to which a police patrol found the president and his wife on the terrace of an Italian restaurant in central Vienna shortly after midnight on Sunday morning.
“We closed after a last round of drinks on time at 23:00, as required by law,” the owner was cited as telling the Krone newspaper.
He said he had thought that customers were allowed to stay on the restaurant terrace beyond that time if they wished.
Gatherings of up to 10 people have been allowed in Austria since the beginning of May, while public parks, small shops, DIY stores and garden centers have been open since April.
(Banner image: Alexander Van der Bellen on Twitter)