Restaurants, unlike bars, have been allowed to stay open in areas on maximum alert after the government came to an agreement with organisations representing restaurant owners.
But there are a lot of new rules in place for those that stay open.
The government's new health protocol – which concerns Paris, Aix-Marseille and Guadeloupe, the three areas in France on “maximum alert” – also provided some clarity as to what type of establishments – bars, restaurants or cafés – will be able to stay open.
Those restaurants that do stay open will have to follow strict health protocols that apply to both customers and staff.
According to the ministry of health these rules are:
- The restaurant must ensure a space of at least one metre between the chairs of different tables. The goal is to reduce the density of people in an enclosed space to limit passing of aerosols that carry the infection, the ministry said. Restaurants can also install protective screens as an added protection.
- Restaurant staff must wear a mask in the dining area, at reception and in the kitchen. It is forbidden to wear other facial protections (eg half-visor, etc.) other than the general public mask in reusable fabric or a mask for standardised medical use. The mask must cover the nose, mouth and chin.
- Customers should ensure that they wear their mask in restaurants until the first course is served and put it back on when moving around the restaurant and in between courses.
- Restaurants can only accommodate a maximum of six people at each table.
- The government also recommends the downloading and activating of the StopCovid tracing app for anyone frequenting restaurants.
- Restaurant staff must keep details of all diners in a registry kept at the entrance. Diners will only be allowed to enter if they agree to leave their details – name, phone number, email address. Customers will leave their contact details in the book and the restaurant boss will make this booklet available to the Regional Health Agency or assurance maladie in the event that contact-tracing is triggered. In all cases, this data will be destroyed after a period of 14 days.
- Restaurants must encourage customers to make reservations online or by phone in advance to avoid people queueing in front of the establishment. Once inside, staff are recommended to promptly move customers to tables.
- The restaurant must display its new maximum capacity after complying with all these new rules, both outside and on the restaurant's website.
- The establishment must provide hand sanitising gel dispensers in easily accessible places and at least at the entrance to the restaurant (and ideally on each table).
- Customers must pay at the table rather than at the counter in order to avoid them moving around inside the restaurant. Customers are asked to use contactless card payments where possible, and although many restaurants and cafés are already encouraging this it is not an order.
Cloakrooms for coats and personal belongings must be temporarily closed.
- Customers are not allowed to have a drink while standing inside or outside the restaurant.
Customers must be seated
Health 'barrier gestures', such as sneezing into your elbow, must be respected within the confines of restaurants.
Staff should not wear gloves.
Restaurants should respect the ventilation rules according to the health regulations relating to commercial catering.
Restaurants should avoid providing objects that can be touched by several customers (books, games, newspapers, salt shakers, etc.) For example, salt or pepper can be offered in single sachets.