The Eiffel Tower is so inseparable from Paris , like the city of light from its very narrow terraces . Yet for almost seven months, Parisians have been deprived of them. A period of time that ended this Wednesday with the entry into force of the second phase of the de-escalation calendar in France .
The coronavirus continues to circulate and health measures remain in force, so the reopening is accompanied by strict health protocols . “The rules are to be broken”, many seem to think in view of the crowded terraces, devoid of safety distance and barrier gestures.
“Yesterday was the reopening, we understand the enthusiasm, but I urge everyone, it is our common interest, to respect the rules, ” said Prime Minister Jean Castex , after the first day of reopening. “People like to be on the terraces, of course. Nobody wants them to be closed, that is not the objective […] This supposes a collective discipline, it is within our reach ”, insisted the head of the Government.
A poorly respected health protocol
According to the health protocol, the terraces of restaurants and cafes can not exceed 50% of capacity , but the smallest that are exempt from this limitation but are required to install physical separation between each table. In addition, the number of diners in the same group cannot exceed six people.
It is enough to take a short walk around the block, in any of the twenty Parisian neighborhoods, to verify that these rules are not implemented to the letter.
“On Wednesday, just after work, I went with several colleagues to have a few beers, the terraces were so overflowing that I ended up sitting on the sidewalk,” says Cecile, administrator of social networks. “We were all looking forward to enjoying the bars again and few of us thought about the restrictions,” he acknowledges.
Disconcerted by the crowd, Laura, an administrative assistant, preferred to deprive herself of the terraces and instead celebrated the de-escalation with a visit to an art gallery. “It seems that we have not learned anything in recent months, we all miss restaurants and bars, but the health crisis is still here, it would be good if we did not forget it and respect the rules if we want to regain a certain normality,” he comments wearily .
Police and gendarmes mobilized
Faced with the transgressions of the sanitary protocol, many wonder who is at risk of being fined, is it the customer or the merchant? According to the regulations, restaurateurs are responsible for ensuring that the maximum capacity is respected, otherwise they are exposed to a fine of 135 euros and even a potential administrative closure .
“We prefer not to risk it, we have four tables with two covers each, it is not much but it is better than nothing, we have asked for an authorization to expand our terrace to the other side of the street, but as long as we do not have an official permit, we will settle for our turn, “explains Guido, manager of an Asian restaurant chain, as he looks at the crowded tables at his neighbor, an Irish pub.
After 9:00 p.m., the time when the curfew comes into effect , restaurants, bars and cafes must close and all their customers must return home. However, there are many who are reluctant to comply with the norm. On Wednesday night, in Paris, Marseille, Rennes or Bordeaux, the forces of order had to intervene to put an end to the party.
“The police and the gendarmes will be particularly severe from 9:00 pm to enforce the established rules,” warned Interior Minister Gérard Darmanin , facing these “deplorable” scenes.