Will Israel dine out again soon?

Restaurant in lockdown / Photo: Bar Lavi , Globes

The Ministry of Economy and Industry proposes special rules for reopening restaurants; the Health Ministry has yet to pronounce.

Will Israel's restaurants wake up from their coma? This Wednesday, a discussion is due to take place between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economy and Industry on getting the restaurant industry back to business. The government froze its activity two months ago as one of the measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The Ministry of Economy and Industry is expected to present a plan that will enable restaurants to reopen, subject to meeting the conditions of a special "purple tag", on May 20. The Ministry of Health has yet to announce its position.

Under the Ministry of Economy and Industry's plan, besides the rules set so far for businesses returning to routine, among them a questionnaire for workers about symptoms, measuring their temperature, maintaining distance between people in queues, sanitizing surfaces, provision of hygiene products, and so forth, the special "purple tag" for restaurants will have additional rules.

First of all, like shops and malls, restaurants will be required to display a sign at the entrance stating the number of customers permitted on the premises. The ministry will seek to introduce rules on matters pertaining particularly to the restaurant industry, such as washing utensils at 70 degrees Celsius, requiring kitchen staff to wear facemasks and special work clothes, sanitizing of tables and chairs at each changeover of diners, and a requirement that tables should be set only after customers sit down. A further requirement relates to waste bins, which will not be allowed to be more than 75% full. Restaurants will also have to assign the same groups of workers to each shift, as far as possible.

In order to maintain social distancing, the Ministry of Economy and Industry proposes spacing people waiting in line at the entrance to the restaurant two meters apart, and a one meter space between each table and the next, and 40 centimeters between the backs of chairs. Customers will be obliged to wear facemasks when entering and leaving the restaurant.

What these rules mean will vary from one restaurant to another, but they will clearly have a broad impact on the different kinds of eateries, and will hurt potential revenue and increase costs for businesses that have in any case been coping with huge difficulties for a long time.

On March 14, the government announced the closure of the hospitality industry, including cafes, bars and restaurants. The government rules stipulated that only home deliveries would be allowed, and subsequently even forbade the sale of prepared food at the place of business. In the past few days, takeaway sales have been permitted, and many restaurants have started operating again in this format. At present, however, food consumption is not allowed within shopping malls, which means that the many restaurants and cafes that operate in them remain shut.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 12, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

Restaurant in lockdown / Photo: Bar Lavi , Globes
Restaurant in lockdown / Photo: Bar Lavi , Globes
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