The government appears to be examining more flexible terms of operation for food service enterprises, as the sector sends a distress signal fearing thousands of shutdowns and hundreds of thousands of job losses.
Of course the intentions of the Development and Investments Ministry will need to be compatible with the directions of the competent committee of the Health Ministry. The hygiene and safety measures for food service outlets are about to be discussed Monda at a video conference with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and sector representatives.
Kathimerini understands that the easing of measures examined to increase the capacity of restaurants and cafeterias includes the following ideas:
– Reducing the distance between tables from the 2 meters previously announced to 1.5 meters.
– Lifting the limit on persons per table in the event that they are members of the same household, thus allowing larger families of five or six members to sit around the same table and not be separated.
– Reducing the distance between chairs at different tables when placed back-to-back.
– Operating indoor spaces provided they have natural ventilation, with one of the options being the employment of fans instead of air conditioners.
If the above measures are deemed safe enough for public health, the capacity of food service outlets will increase, if not at 80 percent as Minister Adonis Georgiadis claims, definitely above the 30-40 percent level the sector had estimated when the original restrictions were announced on April 28. Announcements for the sector are expected as early as this week.
Mitsotakis has proposed the expansion of outdoor spaces for restaurants and cafes, pending the decisions of local authorities. However, the proposal has met with skepticism from the sector for a number of reasons. One is that municipal decisions could stir reactions from local communities; another reason is that there may be conditions of unfair competition depending on whether a restaurant or a cafeteria already has some outdoor space or not.
Two other vital factors for the sector are what tax breaks the government will offer and the rental discount restaurants and cafes will secure from property owners so as to remain sustainable.