Local bars and restaurants torn over whether to open their terraces from Monday

Bars could only open to serve takeaway food this week.
Bars could only open to serve takeaway food this week. / ÑITO SALAS
  • Phase One of the government's plan allows a limited table service, respecting distance between customers

While the start of Phase Zero on Monday 4 May lifted some restrictions, there has been little activity at bars and restaurants along the Costa del Sol for the past two weeks.

During this time they have been permitted to prepare meals for customers to take away, having ordered in advance by phone or internet. Relatively few businesses thought it was worth their while.

Phase One, due to start on Monday 18 May, brings more changes and should see more businesses raising their shutters. For the first time in more than 60 days, bars and restaurants will be able to serve customers at tables on their outdoor terraces.

The government's original Phase One plan stated that bars would only be able to fill 30 per cent of their client capacity, however this was increased to 50 per cent at the weekend.

Some local councils, including Malaga and Marbella, have said they will allow bars to occupy more space than usual with their tables.

The owner of the bar Vualá in Malaga's Plaza de las Flores, Salvatore Ciliberti, was busy this week getting ready. It wasn't that easy, he admitted, as suppliers had to be contacted and the premises disinfected. He has installed screens around the bar to avoid direct contact between staff and customers.

"I came to work this morning with a smile on my face," he said.

It won't be until Phase Two (25 May, conditions permitting) that bars and restaurants will be able to serve customers at tables inside their establishments. Distancing restrictions will continue to apply.

Still wary

Not every bar owner is keen to open their doors at the first opportunity, however.

Tara Tallon, owner of Pat Murphy's pub in Torremolinos, has decided not to open her bar on Monday because it would not be financially viable. Originally from Dublin, Tara and her husband John have owned the bar since 2003, but they are reluctant to open until travel restrictions are lifted.

"We will not be opening because it would cost us money to do so. Our business is 95 per cent tourists, so we will have to play it by ear," Tara said.

The Olive Tree in Coín will also keep its doors shut for at least another two weeks, as owner Tina Mattin is putting her staff and customers' health first.

"I have been asked a lot if we are opening back up but my answer is no. A lot of my clients are of the older generation, so I am not willing to risk their health just yet. We will see what effect opening up slowly in the coming weeks holds, and if everything looks as if it's going well, then we will open end of the month," Tina explained.