International restaurants adapt to pandemic

Austria plans to let cafe, restaurant terraces reopen this month; waxfigures attract at NYC steakhouse

VIENNA/NEW YORK CITY — Austria plans to let cafe and restaurant terraces reopen this month in a further loosening of its coronavirus lockdown that will get an early start in a small Alpine province because of its lower infection rate, the government said on Monday.

Austria first loosened its third coronavirus lockdown three weeks ago despite stubbornly high infections, arguing that the economic, social, and psychological effect of keeping all of its restrictions in place would have been too great.

Non-essential shops, schools, hairdressers, and museums are now open but restaurants, bars, hotels, and theaters are not. Ski lifts have been open since Christmas Eve but with hotels closed they have almost only been used by locals and day-trippers. A nighttime curfew has replaced all-day restrictions on movement.

Infections have, however, risen since the lockdown was eased. Daily new infections are now regularly above 2,000, having hovered above 1,000 before, though they peaked at more than 9,000 in November before the second lockdown.

Warmer weather and accelerating vaccinations should help slow the spread of the virus after Easter, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober told a government news conference.

With infections per 100,000 people by far their lowest in the small, mountainous province of Vorarlberg that borders Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, the next loosening will happen there first, on March 15, the government said. The rest of the country should follow on Mar. 27.

Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig added that sport in schools would be allowed as of the same day.

The government hopes to take further loosening steps in the culture and tourism sectors in April, depending on how the situation develops, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.

AUDREY HEPBURN, JON HAMM WAX FIGURES AT NYC
As New York City restaurants reopened indoor dining rooms at 35% capacity on Friday, the Peter Luger Steak House and Madame Tussauds New York wax museum joined forces to welcome diners back in a fun way and to enforce social distancing guidelines.

Wax figures of Audrey Hepburn, dressed as her character Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s sitting in front of a Martini, and Jon Hamm as his character Don Draper in Mad Men  holding an Old Fashioned cocktail, greeted customers while waiters rushed by with plates of sizzling steaks.

The coronavirus pandemic hit New York establishments especially hard, where, the National Restaurant Association says, restaurants accounted for 9% of employment in the state in 2019 and brought in $51.6 billion in sales in 2018.

“It’s been rough,” said Michael Costa, manager at Peter Luger’s Brooklyn steakhouse. “We’re going to adapt to what’s going on. Right now we’ll take whatever they give us, 25 is good, 35, whatever they want to give us because we’re at the bottom,” Mr. Costa said. “But, we’ll survive.” — Reuters