CORONAVIRUS AND RESTAURANTS: THE DECREE, AN IN-DEPTH EXPLANATION
The Coronavirus crisis that is affecting Italy has not only blocked many areas of the country with the expansion of the red zone but has also confused managers of clubs and restaurants. In the latest Decree of March 8, a distinction is made between pubs and restaurants, which could be confusing. Also, the opening of the businesses is limited for times and safety distances. But let’s see what it is concretely and then a series of recommendations to restaurateurs.
Pubs must be closed all over Italy
In the case of pubs, there is no distinction: they cannot remain open. By pub, we mean all those places that serve alcoholic beverages and consequently attract a large number of people, creating gatherings (in the same cluster there are also discos and dance halls).
The Decree states:
“Pub activities are suspended, with the sanction of suspension of activity in case of violation.”
This is valid for all of Italy, not only for the red area including the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso and Venice.
The bars and restaurants remain open, but …
For bars and restaurants, the situation is different. The Decree of March 8 states:
“The carrying out of restaurant and bar activities, with an obligation, on the owner, to enforce to keep the interpersonal safety distance of at least one meter, with a sanction for suspension of the activity in case of violation;”
The opening is allowed from 6.00 to 18.00 in the red area, while there are no different instructions for the other areas of Italy, so the activities will be able to keep the usual opening hours.
In both cases, however, it must be possible to keep at least one meter apart in public spaces. Be careful: this distance must be maintained between clients and not between tables. Some places are already organizing themselves accordingly: those who have the possibility, for example, a long counter as in the case of the truck stops, have already provided some placeholders (even improvised, just a little colored scotch tape for the less demanding) that guarantee respect safety distances. It was seen in a news report on TV, although based on the Decree of March 2, it was mandatory to serve food and drinks only on seats. In the Decree of March 8, however, this clarification on seating disappeared.
Reading the Decree, there was confusion about a passage linked to the “O” point, the one concerning commercial activities and shops. We understand: “in the presence of structural or organizational conditions that do not allow compliance with the interpersonal safety distances of one meter, the businesses mentioned above must be closed.” This clarification does not appear in the previous point where we talk about restaurant activities. Still, the Ministry of Health specifies that this also applies to bars and restaurants: if you are unable to enforce this determination, you will have to remain closed.
Tips and rules for restaurateurs
Here are some tips (and a practice) addressed to restaurateurs:
1. based on the provision of the Privacy Guarantor of March 2, 2020, it is forbidden to use questionnaires for the collection of data relating to travel and health
2. Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds. Any soap or, alternatively, a disinfectant with more than 60% alcohol concentration is fine
3. Use ethanol and chlorine products for sanitization
4. Change the tablecloth at each customer meal or, better, use disposable placemats
5. As required by the Decree, avoid contact and keep a distance of one meter, even between employees
6. Avoid self-service and replace it, if possible, with table service
7. Develop food delivery and encourage outdoor consumption
The distance of one meter, among other things, was chosen on the “droplet” rule. In fact, the infection occurs mainly by contact with the nebulized saliva, perhaps through coughing or sneezing. It is an indicative distance chosen by specialists, even if the infection can occur at an even greater distance. Consequently, the droplet depends on various factors, and it is, therefore, difficult to establish a certain safety distance. It all depends on the density of the drops, the expulsion rate, and even the humidity of the environment.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)