August 2, 2021

in Paris, in the jungle of bar and restaurant terraces

The terrace, still sparse in the middle of the afternoon, spreads out like a long snake for fifteen meters along the sidewalk, overflows onto the road, turns around the corner of the café to extend into the small dead end, passes again on the sidewalk opposite, turn again before ending fifteen meters further, on the other side of the pedestrian crossing. “The number of tables? I did not count “, admits the owner of this bar at 20e arrondissement of Paris, whose terrace extends as far as the eye can see, with hydroalcoholic gel and a distance of one meter between the tables.

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Since their reopening on May 19, bars and restaurants have been subject to a health protocol requiring tables for a maximum of six people, and a gauge limited to 50% of the capacity of the terrace. On June 9, they will be able to open the terraces to 100% of their capacity and the rooms to 50%, before being able to accommodate without limit of gauge or guests per table on June 30. While the curfew will pass at 11 p.m. Wednesday, the ephemeral terraces, perpetuated by the reform of displays and terraces announced on Monday June 7 by the mayor of Paris, will have to close at 10 p.m. But, even before the second phase of deconfinement, the observation is clear: many terraces are full, and restaurateurs are struggling to enforce sanitary rules.

“Do you see physical distancing, do you?” “ Behind her counter, Lucie (the first names have been changed) rolls her eyes. When she reopened the doors of her bar at 20e arrondissement, the young boss did her best not to get into trouble with either the police or the residents: she only extended her terrace with five or six tables on the sidewalk opposite. But, even so, she feels overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the customers: “They come in groups of six, then want to bring back one or two friends. If we separate the tables, they end up bringing them closer together… ”

“Distancing, people don’t care”

At 9 p.m., customers are just starting to relax and need to be asked to get up: “They ask why we are closing, if they can stay … It creates tensions for nothing, it’s very frustrating”, sighs the young woman. “It’s weird, isn’t it?” she says to her colleague serving a pint. We have the impression that we can be fined at any time for doing our job. “

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