food & drink

Life after Covid-19

Many Spanish families live from the income of a small café or bar that doubles as a community centre, making it unfortunate that these businesses have been hit so hard by the coronavirus.

Although the re-opening programme is being finalised, the end-result is still vague, but the indications are that going out for a drink or a meal will be more stressful than staying at home. Proposals for our future safety could involve obligatory reservations, plastic screens between tables (four persons max of the same family), cleansing routines, extractor fans, and time limits for eating: 30 minutes for breakfast and 90 for main meals.

None of this is conducive to getting business back to pre-epidemic levels, so should we take a lead from Italy, where as many as 75,000 restaurants, bars and clubs have united in protest at post-lockdown social distancing measures, which could cause the estimated closure of half the businesses in the country's hospitality sector?

This week the affected owners will hand over their keys to local mayors, signifying they have no perceived future under post-Covid-19 regulations. The small amount of business that will result from the proposed June re-opening will not even cover running costs. Better to stay closed and accept government hand-outs.

The sector employs 1.5 million people, and the Italians reckon, reasonably - and Spain can make a similar claim - that by the disappearance of bars, cafeterias and restaurants, the country will lose a vital part of its cultural fabric. However it is difficult to understand why the proposed safety measures are considered necessary in both countries. Surely the simple solution is for all such businesses to have airport-type scanners that take the temperature of customers entering, and those with higher than normal temperatures are barred.