A political argument between the City of Vienna and the Austrian national government has eventually come to a good end after nearly four weeks. While all parks owned by the city remained open and accessible after the beginning of the coronacrisis, public parks owned by the national government were closed. After a wave of citizens protest, petitions and appeals of the city government, national government showed readiness to reopen the parks after Easter weekend.
Although about half of the city’s surface is green, the share of public green space in Vienna differs substantially between inner city districts and periphery areas. In the centre, only between 2 and 15 percent of all space are green, whereas in the outer parts this can amount up to 70 percent. For the population in the inner and densely populated areas, a lot of green spaces they were used to enjoy have not been accessible for nearly four weeks. This led to numerous protests and petitions by citizens, and several appeals by the city government, which even made it to a report in the Financial Times.
The Mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, clearly pointed out to the government since the beginning of the crisis: “No one understands that the gardens of Schoenbrunn, Belvedere and Augarten, which is home to the famous Vienna Boys’ Choir, remain closed.” The city government undertook several attempts to convince the national government to reopen their parks. People, especially when living crowded in small flats need to get out from time to time. The week before Easter, the national government showed readiness to reopen its public parks in Vienna.
Mayor Ludwig said “I am glad we found a solution with the federal government for our citizens.” The parks owned by the national government are due to open doors again by April 14th. Around 113.000 Viennese citizens live in a 500 meters range to state-owned parks – as many as in Klagenfurt, the regional capital of Austria’s southern province Carinthia.