As the number of new infections and fatalities continues to fall in Italy, Prime Minister Conte acquiesced to regional governor’s demands to be allowed to open for business, including bars and restaurants, before the slated date of June the 1st. Therefore from next Monday restaurants and bars will open their doors to the public for the first time in 10 over weeks.
The Italian National Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance (INAIL) and the Higher Institute of Health (ISS) have prepared guidelines for the hospitality sector starting with social distancing. For each customer, a space of four square metres must be provided, while the distance between the tables must be at least two meters. Buffets and traditional menus will no longer be allowed and reservations required for all seatings.
These are some of the rules that the restaurant sector will have to follow in order to resume trading. All the details are contained in the technical document drawn up by INAIL and by the Higher Institute of Health for the restaurant sector. A sector that has 1.2 million workers in Italy. The objective is to help, with general and non-specific settings, the activities to remodel the contagion containment measures from Covid-19 in a "gradual and progressive" manner.
In the document one of the aspects that is underlined as a premise is that, obviously, it is not possible to use masks to eat and therefore the risk for customers and staff is greater. In addition, another of the fears expressed is that of contaminating surfaces, as well as dishes and cutlery.
Will a distance of four meters between tables be possible? Photo Igor Oliyarnik | Unsplash
How restaurants will reopen: the spacing between tables
The main new development will be the new arrangement of tables and seats. The document underlines that a distance between tables of at least two meters must be ensured "guaranteeing a distance between customers, during the meal, capable of avoiding the transmission of droplets and for the contact between people".
Restaurants will also have to set a maximum capacity limit, providing a space that should not be less than 4 square meters for each customer. However, there remains the possibility of alternative solutions such as installing dividing barriers between customers.
INAIL and ISS suggest making seat reservations mandatory, to avoid creating queues outside to enter and to be able to manage footfall for distancing purposes. In addition, restaurant owners are encouraged to favour electronic payments, avoiding cash. Another recommendation is to eliminate service arrangements such as the buffet. Another advice is to abolish menus that are passed from one customer to another, replacing them with writing on whiteboards, menus on sites or apps or printed on a disposable sheet.
Masks and Gels in Restaurants
For customers, the use of masks is necessary only for activities such as payments, transfers to the premises and when going to the bathroom. Sanitizing products must be provided for customers and staff, with dispensers at multiple points of the room and in front of the access to the bathrooms. At the end of each table service, it will be necessary to sanitize all surfaces.
Indications for hospitality workers
The staff working in restaurants is divided between the kitchen staff, the waiting staff and the administrative staff. The kitchen staff must wear masks in the shared areas of the kitchen. For table service, however, the waiters must wear a mask for the whole shift and if possible also gloves. The masks are also required of the staff dedicated to administrative activities in the event that it is impossible to maintain the distance of one meter, for example, at the cash desk, where separation barriers should be installed.