Restaurants in Switzerland will be able to reopen on Monday 11 May 2020. But they’ll need to follow strict rules that were published this week.
The seven pages of detailed restaurant rules will make dining in the time of Covid-19 quite different to what we’re accustomed to.
Rules put together by the industry and Switzerland’s federal government will require diners to wash their hands as they enter restaurants and provide their names and phone numbers. This will facilitate contact tracing whenever an infection is later discovered. This information must be destroyed after 14 days.
Groups will be limited to four people, with exceptions made for families. The people in the group must know each other and arrive together or have made a group reservation prior to arrival. Different groups are not allowed to mix and must remain at least two metres apart. Spacing between tables can be substituted with dividers. All physical contact, including hand shaking, must be avoided.
All diners must be seated. Dining or drinking standing is not allowed. Live bands, karaoke and games such as billiards, darts or bowling are banned too.
In addition, restaurant managers and staff must follow strict hygiene procedures. Staff must wash their hands before touching plates, cutlery, napkins and table cloths.
For any task that cannot be done at a distance of two metres, masks and protective visors are recommended but not obligatory if the task is done quickly.
Many in the industry are not happy with the rules, describing them as excessively constraining and intrusive. Gilles Meystre, of Gastro-Vaud, told RTS that he thinks the worst rule is the requirement to record people’s personal details.
On Friday, the federal government backed away from the rule requiring diners to provide personal details. It is advised but no longer compulsory. The federal council pointed out that it is on clients’ interest to provide their details so they can be informed if a member of the restaurant’s staff later tests positive.
Meystre also pointed out that the measures will significantly cut restaurant seating capacity in some establishments. Certain restaurants will be forced to cut seating from 80 to 18 places, he said.