Since the restaurants and bars have re-opened on May 11th, some venues are charging 2 francs per person as a contribution to the cost of the disinfectant and other protective measures required by the government, according to 20 Minuten.
“We consider two francs per person to be a fair amount”, the manager of one Zurich restaurant told the newspaper.
The same practice exists in other parts of Switzerland as well. According to Lausanne’s daily newspaper, 24 Heures, two people reported that they “had to pay 2 francs per person as a contribution to the cost of hydroalcoholic lotion”.
And in Ticino too a number of restaurants add an additional charge to the bill to offset the cost of protective measures.
But this practice is not illegal.
The Federal Price Supervisor, Stefan Meierhans, said that the free market principles and competition also apply in the catering sector. “The surcharges are not inadmissible”, he said.
He pointed out, however, that the restaurant must inform the customers of the surcharge and clearly indicate it on the bill.
If not informed ahead of time, the client has the right to refuse to pay the fee, according to consumer rights advocate Sara Stalder.
She said that the additional charge may actually backfire against the restaurant staff.
“With these add-ons, customers may waive the tip, which might have been higher than the surcharge”.
Stalder also said that some restauranteurs raise their prices in secret. “Customers will become aware of this increase if they notice that the price of their favourite dish has gone up.”
The hotel and restaurant association, GastroSuisse, makes no recommendations for or against the surcharges.
“Every owner is responsible for his own pricing,” GastroSuisse president Casimir Platzer told 20 Minuten.
“If they have to invest a lot of money in disinfectants and protective materials, they may have to adjust their prices”, he noted, adding that most restaurants in Switzerland don’t add on extra costs.
The restaurant sector is not the only one to add supplements for hygiene measures.
In a move that angered many clients, when hairdressers re-opened on April 27th, many started charging from 1 to 5 francs more to cover the cost of masks, disposable aprons and disinfectants used to prevent the spread of the virus.