The bar and restaurant sector was hit particularly hard by some of the restrictions at the height of the coronavirus crisis and, to give them a helping hand, Marbella council allowed them extra space for outside tables and chairs. However, that measure was withdrawn six months ago, and now the local authority will be checking to make sure that no business is taking up outdoor space to which it is no longer entitled.
Council spokesman Félix Romero said on Monday that the inspectors will not only be looking at tables and chairs but also the use of A-board or tripod type advertisements, as these are not included under the regulations. The first step of the campaign, he explained, will be to put markings on the ground to show the size of the outside areas which the businesses are permitted to use.
Since the temporary measure was withdrawn, the local authority has carried out several information campaigns to make sure that bar and restaurant owners are aware that the rules had returned to normal. Now, the aim is to ensure that they are complying but Romero says the idea is not to make money by fining those who do not and he is confident that business owners will want to stay within the law.
The council regulation forbids bars and restaurants from blocking pavements so that it is difficult for pedestrians to get past. The fines for taking up more outdoor space than authorised range from 751 to 1,500 euros. Using space without any authorisation or out of permitted hours is considered a very serious offence, and fines up to 3,000 euros can be issued.
The councillor also explained that a meeting has been planned for this week to discuss the situation regarding ‘chiringuito’ beach restaurants which are using more of the sand than they should. This is slightly different, because the council’s Beach Department says that although in a few cases businesses might be using extra space for their sunbeds, the real problem is that the beaches are steadily losing metres of sand through natural phenomena.