Düsseldorf If North Rhine-Westphalia introduced a mask requirement in October, restaurateurs would have to check the vaccination, testing or convalescence status of customers who do not wish to wear the mask. This would mean a lot of effort for restaurateurs.
The data on the turnover of gastronomy in the country, published in recent months by the IT.NRW statistical office in North Rhine-Westphalia, always had the same meaning. Each time, innkeepers earned much more than in the corresponding period of last year, but much less than in the corresponding period of 2019, i.e. before the outbreak of the pandemic. This means that business has become more difficult than the crown blast, even if restrictions have been lifted over time. And now some of them will probably come back from October. At least the obligation to wear a mask, which the cautious ones still adhered to even after all the regulations collapsed: bring the mask into the restaurant, take it off only at the table and re-wear it every time you leave the table to smoke or go to the toilet.
The fact is that rising energy and food prices have hit restaurateurs hard, as have all other sectors of the economy. So as long as the mask requirement remains the only requirement (initially only a federal state option), complaints will be limited. Especially since the regulations are not due to come into force until October, so summer can still go largely without masks. And the danger of complete closure no longer exists. “First of all, we welcome the fact that future blockages caused by the pandemic are about to be lifted and that the principle of proportionality is being emphasized. It is an important signal for the planning security of our restaurateurs and hoteliers, but also for our employees. The hotel industry can therefore remain open next fall and winter, ”said Patrick Rothkopf, president of the NRW State Association of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga NRW), to our editorial staff.
But the follow-up effort is likely to be greater in the fall than before, as restaurant and pub operators would have to check the immunization or convalescence status of those who were not wearing the mask, or ask for a negative test if masks were mandatory. For people who have been vaccinated and recovered without a mask, only those who have been vaccinated or recovered no more than three months ago can enter. This means that many more people who do not wish to wear a mask would have to be retested. It is not known yet who will pay for it.
In any case, the new regulation is likely to mean more control work for restaurateurs and their employees. And, of course, concerns grow as the number of infections increases, with ramifications for the healthcare system. Two weeks ago, Ingrid Hartges, director general of the Federal Dehoga Association, said that all measures, such as the obligation to wear a mask, can only be reinstated if they are appropriate, necessary and proportionate and necessary to combat the pandemic. Decisive criteria: danger of virus variant and hospitalization rate.
There was a warning even before the government made a decision on the new regulation of the Infection Protection Act, and the federal states introduced the relevant regulations. Restaurateurs know that any access requirement or restriction of access is making their business again difficult. Further measures that the federal states could take would again lead to sales losses and disproportionate additional costs, President Dehoga-NRW Rothkopf said on Thursday. Example: If the parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia at some point determines a dangerous situation based on the data, a minimum distance of 1.50 meters in public places can be re-recommended. This means: Tables in restaurants in NRW would have to be further apart, which would mean there would likely be less space, fewer guests served and turnover of innkeepers would drop again.
First of all, just a bad scenario, but of course such a situation cannot be ruled out. Rothkopf thus wonders, among other things, when “the functionality of a health system or other critical infrastructure can no longer be guaranteed”. It is also unclear who in the future will have what vaccination or test to be exempt from the mask requirement and what financial support is to compensate for the impending loss of sales. This last question may now “take on existential significance” in the context of successive crises such as soaring energy prices, according to Rothkopf.