‘It’s too early’: Are people in Switzerland ready to return to bars and restaurants?

'It’s too early': Are people in Switzerland ready to return to bars and restaurants?
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Bars and restaurants are again allowed to open in Switzerland from May 11th. But whether customers are ready and willing to attend is another story.

Earlier in the week, The Local Switzerland asked readers if they would be willing to head out to restaurants and bars again, almost two months since they were shut down across the country as part of the fight against Covid-19. 

The Swiss government has allowed them to open again from Monday, May 11th, pursuant to stringent hygiene, data and social distancing measures. 

Reaching out via Twitter and Facebook, we received more than 1000 responses – as well as dozens of comments on the matter. 

Of 1034 responses, almost two thirds (62 percent) told us that they would not be again visiting restaurants from May 11th. 

Just over a third (35 percent) said they would be happy to visit restaurants again, while a further two percent said they were undecided. 

‘It’s not safe’

Commenters on social media told us that safety was their major concern, with some saying they were not convinced by the new hygiene and social distancing requirements. 

Yamuna Sathyanarayanan summed it up succinctly “It’s not safe to go to restaurants and bars. People must avoid crowds or going out unnecessarily.”

Serena Ronzitti said something similar. 

“I believe it is too early for restaurants and bars to open and the safety measures defined by the government do not make me feel comfortable and safe enough.”

 

Sharon Kendall said she understood the need to support local businesses, but said she would do so from home for the next few weeks. 

“No I think it's still too early, we've been supporting our local restaurants who provide food delivery and will continue to do so until we see what the impact of the reopening has on the infection rates.”

Veronika Cencen said simply: “I never did so why start now?”

A man walks past a closed restaurant. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

‘I would probably go’

Other respondents however said concerns about hygiene would not stop them from attending. 

Martin Freshwater wrote “If a bar has a terrace I would probably go, if the restaurant takes the right precautions as specified I would also probably go.”

Kerry Saunders agreed, saying the country needed to open up again. 

“Personally I will go. The infection rate is very low now and the country and economy need to restart. Slowly.”

April Davis Kelley told us that she would go to locations she knew and could trust. 

“I will be going to a neighbourhood Italian restaurant where we know the owners and the precautions they are taking and we want to be supportive. Beyond that? Probably not.”

The sentiment was echoed by Nikki Pfammatter-Dixon.

“I wouldn’t go to bars but will go to our local restaurant where I know the owner and staff and most of the customers. I trust they will do their best to keep everyone as safe as they can. I won’t venture much further than that for quite some time yet though…”

‘Can’t be much worse than grocery shopping’

Some of our readers pointed out an apparent double standard, saying that they were just as likely to catch the virus in the supermarket as they were at a restaurant. 

Valérie Timmons said “Cannot be much worse than going grocery shopping. I’m very much looking forward to eat out again, we’ll try to get a table on the outdoor patios tho – too bad they open the day after Mothers Day”

Alessia Winter agreed: “Funny, so crowded and not controlled Bauhaus and Obi are ok to go, and restaurants are not safe? People, where is your logic?”

Keeping your distance 

To open again, bars and restaurants will need to comply with a strict set of requirements. 

No more than four people will be allowed to sit at one table, while all guests must be seated. Therefore, pubs will be allowed to open provided seating is provided. 

Read: Here's how Switzerland's reopened bars and restaurants will look

Groups of guests must sit more than two metres away from other groups, or be separated by some form of partitioning. 

Parents and their children will be an exception to the four-person limit, with families allowed to sit groups larger than four. 

UPDATE: Swiss restaurant patrons will not have to divulge their personal details 

Initially, the government also required bars and restaurants to keep the full names and phone numbers of everyone who attended, however that requirement was walked back on Friday due to public complaints. 


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