A luxury hotel in Vienna has started delivering food using horse-drawn carriages to the city's older residents, who were confined in their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative by the luxury Intercontinental in the Austrian capital, was launched last week after the hotel was forced to close amid the shutdown measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 disease, Efe news reported. "The hotel, unfortunately, is empty," Brigitte Trattner, who runs the hotel, told Efe news on the phone on Friday. "We want to help. So we thought we could distribute food."
Food prepared every day delivered by the carriage
Customers, who tend to be over 70, place their orders the day before, and the food, typically traditional Austrian fare, is prepared every day in the kitchen by the hotel staff.
On the first day of the initiative, they received some 170 orders. On Friday, that number had jumped to 250, and the kitchen, which is equipped to handle 350 per day, expects even more next week. The service is only offered in one district of Vienna, and runs thanks to unpaid volunteers who bring the food to the elderly, all while wearing rubber gloves and face masks under strict sanitary conditions.
"A lot of young people have offered to help. People on their bikes or in their cars," Trattner says. But the real star of the delivery service are the three "Fiaker", traditional horse-drawn carriages typically seen showing tourists around the city's sights, that have also joined the initiative.
The service will be running until at least April 13, when the current restrictions to slow the pandemic's spread are due to expire, although they could well be extended beyond that date. After that, the hotel will continue distributing food to health workers at a nearby hospital. Austria has reported 11,444 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but only 9 per cent have required hospital treatment.