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Outdoor drinking and dining in Switzerland: What is allowed?

Outdoor drinking and dining in Switzerland: What is allowed?
People outside on the first day of lockdown loosening in Geneva. Photo: AFP
From how many people at a table to the rules about awnings and tents, here’s what you need to know about eating outside in Switzerland.

Swiss residents flocked to terraces as coronavirus measures were relaxed on Monday, April 19th – the first time since December when rules for eating outdoors at restaurants were loosened on a federal level. 

However, what are the exact rules for eating outside? Here’s what you need to know.

All outdoor areas of restaurants and bars may now be opened – provided of course that all those in attendance are seated. 

No more than four people may be at one table, according to the regulation. 

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Contact details must be kept from everyone in attendance, while masks must be worn at all times except for sitting on the table. 

Tables must have at least 1.5 metres between them, otherwise barriers must be installed. 

What about walls and roofs?

Covid Ordinance section 5a lays out the rules for outdoor areas. 

With April weather being anything but reliable, some restaurants and bars have sought to keep their patrons dry by putting up tents and awnings. 

A viral picture from a McDonald’s in Basel has led many to ask what kind of coverings are allowed? 

The image shows an outside dining area protected by a tent – which has all four of the walls closed. 

According to the FOPH, putting coverings on outdoor areas is fine – however there needs to be clear air circulation. 

Half of the sides may be protected to protect people from the rain. In effect, this means that at least two of the tents four walls need to be open or removed. 

Doors, windows or other gaps in the wall do not count as the removal of a wall, according to the ordinance. 

This means that the tent at McDonald’s – or any similar enclosure – would be contrary to the rules. 

“A spatial enclosure on all sides by means of tarpaulins, tents, etc., as can be seen in the photo posted on Twitter, contradicts federal requirements, since all-round enclosure does not provide sufficient air exchange in the outdoors,” a spokesperson told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes. 

In some cases, three or four walls may be acceptable – but only when there is no roof on the area. 


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