In Vienna, a bar opens for testing instead of drinking

IIn the Salzgries there is an unusual rush at lunchtime. A woman dressed in fur controls the bar “Dino’s Apothecary”, which is located in this central street in downtown Vienna. She comes to the Covid test. Opposite a picture by the writer Ernest Hemingway in a séparée, she drops her fur and picks her nose with pleasant background music. On Monday, their operator Heinz Kaiser opened for lunch during the exit restrictions.

Michaela Seiser

Business correspondent for Austria and Hungary based in Vienna.

Several people willing to test have already gathered in front of the eighty square meter bar. “We are well booked,” explains Kaiser. His main job is a pharmacist. He also tests in his pharmacy in the Second District. But the demand from those willing to test is now exceeding capacities. So the enthusiastic cocktail mixer uses his now idle bar. This is how the restaurant of the multi-award-winning barkeeper and pharmacist lives up to its name, according to his fans.

Until Easter, testing instead of drinking is the order of the day in “Dino’s Apothecary”. Kaiser, who has a sense of humor, says: “It is not for nothing, in contrast to many members of the federal government, that I studied pharmacy for 14 years to know how we can make our guests happy even in the gastro permanent lockdown . “The Covid tests are offered free of charge, as in some pharmacies and public test streets.

Smear between spirits and cherry wood

But the trade-off between exotic spirits and cherry wood takes place in a completely different environment than normal. For the bar operator, this is a way of making themselves even better known. In his bar, which was only opened two years ago, he brings two worlds together that enable an unusual experience. The trained pharmacist allows his chemical knowledge to flow into the drinks. Over the years he has collected spirits from which he still conjures up new creations.

In Heinz Kaiser's bar


In Heinz Kaiser’s bar
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Image: Michaela Seiser

In Austria, there have been easing in what is now the third phase of strict exit restrictions for two weeks. Hairdressers and other body-hugging service providers as well as dealers have kept it open since then. However, customers must be able to show a negative test result for the coronavirus and wear FFP2 masks. The test must not be older than 48 hours. Only the results of official PCR or antigen tests apply; self-tests are not valid according to the requirements of the Ministry of Health.

Therefore the test capacities are well used. Because, on the one hand, the state wants people to spend their savings – no EU country suffered a bigger growth kink in the fourth quarter of 2020 than Austria – on the other hand, the search should be prevented from spreading. Therefore, the range of free tests is being expanded. This now also includes that of Kaiser.

In Austria, the number of cases increases again after the opening

The number of cases and the daily 7-day incidence have been increasing for days between Bregenz and Eisenstadt. According to experts, this is related to the increased testing and the relaxed exit restrictions. Virus variants are also spreading. According to calculations by the Covid-19 data hub, Austria has a higher mortality rate than Germany, South Africa and the Netherlands, with 93.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. It is slightly lower than that in Switzerland and Sweden (124). Measured against the countries with the highest death toll – San Marino, Slovenia, Belgium and the United Kingdom – it is around half.

The relaxation of the corona measures with simultaneous testing for certain areas have put Austria in the top international field in terms of the number of tests in the previous week. It is uncertain when restaurants and hotels will open again. After repeated postponements in the past few weeks, this time it could be until Easter. Until then, Dino’s Apothecary should also let guests in during the day.

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