Following a meeting between representatives of the hospitality industry and the French Government on Tuesday March 16th a plan for reopening of French bars, cafés and restaurants has been revealed, albeit without a start date at this stage. We have been told that there will be three weeks warning prior to the plan being implemented.
Three phases of Reopening Plan
The plan is to take place in three distinct phases. Phase one will start with hotel restaurants allowing their customers to take breakfast in the hotel dining room. There had been a request for hotels to be allowed to open their restaurants on an evening for their guests as well but at present that has been rejected and they will have to wait until phase two.
Phase two will see bars and restaurants opening their outdoor terrasses and some indoor space. At this stage it appears as if terrasses will open to full capacity, but indoor seating areas will be limited to 50% capacity. On a personal note I think that because of the configuration of the inside of my restaurant I will be limited to a total of 12 customers inside. As part of phase 2 hotels will open their restaurants to guests for dinner.
Phase 3 will permit bars and restaurants to open fully while still observing the same protocols that were in place last October before we were ordered to close.
Those protocols will include, I imagine, taking customers’ contact details, wearing face masks for staff and customers, a minimum distance between tables and a maximum of six people seated at a table.
There is also plenty of talk about using QR codes for contact tracing of customers. The idea is that the QR code system is linked to the government’s Track and Trace App (TousAntiCovid) but with improved functionality. With a QR code scanned on entering the restaurant, or other public place, it will log the time that the customer is in the restaurant. If a customer later tests positive for Covid who has been in the restaurant the Tracking App will contact all other customers who were present at the same time.
Each phase of the reopening plan is scheduled to last 4 weeks with a start date that is dependent on the number of new daily infections and the number of vaccinations given. À figure for infections or vaccinations has not been stated by the Government but unfortunately the number of daily cases is currently rising and the vaccination programme appears to be woefully slow!
An anticipated start date of mid-may has been put forward as being realistic. If we follow that through here’s how hospitality could get started in France. Let’s assume a date of Monday 17th May for hotels to start serving breakfast and move forward 4 weeks to June 14th for bars and restaurants to open terrasses with the final full opening four weeks later on July 12th.
The second week of the school summer holiday and just in time for the French National Day on July 14th. Would I be cynical to imply that after President Biden announced July 4th as the date for leaving the pandemic behind that the French might be aiming for July 14th Bastille Day? However the dates work out it will be a relief to get the hospitality industry started again and I seriously hope that once it is reopened it will stay open.