A routine check by Viennese police found Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen his wife and two friends merrily chatting away past midnight on Sunday in breach of the current mandated closing time of 11 p.m., the country’s largest newspaper, the conservative Kronen Zeitung reports.
Van der Bellen is a member of the country’s Green Party.
“I went out to eat with two friends and my wife for the first time since the lockdown. We then chatted away and unfortunately overlooked the time. I am truly sorry. It was a mistake,” Van der Bellen wrote in a tweet, followed by a second one adding “should the host suffer any damage, I will stand for it straight.”
Under the current Austrian coronavirus regulations, any restaurant found open after the mandatory 11 p.m. closing time faces a fine of up to €30,000 ($32,663).
Aki Nuredini, owner of the Italian restaurant, told Kronen Zeitung that he did nothing wrong.
“The Federal President is a regular guest here, like many artists. He had fish for dinner. I did everything right, and we locked down with a last round of drinks on time at 11 p.m., as required by law,” Nuredini said. “The Federal President simply had afterwards — initially I was there too — chatting nicely with his wife outside on the covered sidewalk terrace.”
Michael Schnedlitz, secretary general of Austria’s senior coalition party, the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) said “This is a very inappropriate attitude for the federal president of a democratic country”.