For many, rules on social distancing could spell the end: tables will need to be at least one metre apart, meaning takings will be drastically reduced. “We can’t seat more than 10 people at a time, when usually there would be around 40,” said Gargioli.
The worry is that the myriad rules could put people off eating out altogether as it becomes an activity mired in red tape rather than a fun, often spontaneous moment of coming together. Diners will have to book and wear masks whenever they leave their tables, while staff will need to wear masks and gloves at all times. Tables would also need to be disinfected between sittings and have hand sanitisers available. Restaurant owners could be fined if the rules are broken, and be liable if an employee or customer contracts Covid-19.
“People are paralysed by fear,” added Gargioli. “Even with the social distancing, it’s not 100% certain that you won’t get infected. For restaurants, this situation is very bad.”