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Russia’s restaurants are reopening after months of coronavirus lockdown, with masked staff and tables placed 5 feet apart

Source: Meduza
Sergey Fadeichev / TASS / Vida Press

On June 1, a number of Russian regions began gradually lifting quarantine restrictions that have been in place since the end of March to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Along with other businesses, restaurants and cafes are preparing to reopen, in accordance with new rules and recommendations handed down by Russia’s public health agency, Rospotrebnadzor, Interfax reports. Restaurant owners told Interfax that they had reached an agreement with Rospotrebnadzor on these new guidelines (this comes after officials released a plan for Russia’s return to work in April, which was met with criticism from business owners). 

Here are the main requirements for cafes and restaurants:

  • Tables have to be set up no less than 1.5 meters away from each other. Entrances to cafes are required to have pumps with disinfectant and antiseptic wipes. However, customers will not be required to wear masks, Alexey Vasilchuk, the co-owner of the food industry holding company “RESTart Vasilchuk Brothers,” told Interfax. Vasilchuk also said that there will be no partitions between diners. 
  • Using damaged tableware is forbidden. Any dishes with chips, cracks, broken edges, or damaged enamel must be taken out of commission. All tableware must be washed in “a modern dishwasher with disinfectant capabilities, at the maximum temperature.” If a business doesn’t have this type of machine, dishes can be washed by hand, but must be treated with disinfectant. If these conditions cannot be met, then restaurants are allowed to use disposable tableware.
  • Employees’ health must be monitored. Employees will have their temperatures checked before the start of every work day, and be questioned about how they are feeling, and whether or not they have been in contact with any sick people recently. Employees should wear masks while working and change them regularly: reusing masks is not allowed. 

Fast food chains have announced additional security measures. The first McDonald’s to reopen dine-in services in Moscow will be the location on the city’s main pedestrian street, the Arbat. An employee will open the door for customers, who will be allowed in based on the restaurant’s capacity. Burger King has already reopened dine-in services at locations in Ufa and Sterlitamak (the two largest cities in Bashkortostan); rather than allowing customers to use self-service counters for unlimited refills of fountain soda, employees at these locations are refilling customers’ drinks in new cups.

Similar rules will apply to hotels. Hotel guests are advised to check their temperatures upon check-in, and then everyday afterwards. Rooms will be limited to one person or one family. Hotels are advised to clean rooms at least once per day, using “specialized equipment.” Tables in hotel restaurants should be set up no less than two meters apart, and only people who live together can sit at the same table. Hotels are also advised to extend breakfast hours, and comply with stricter requirements for washing dishes. Rospotrebnadzor also recommends that hotel staff undergo the same health checks as restaurant employees. 

Each region will decide when restaurants, cafes, and hotels reopen, individually. At the end of last week, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova warned that in order for regions to lift quarantine restrictions, regional officials must be sure that the local situation with the coronavirus has stabilized and that there will be no need to bring back restrictions. 

Text by Tatyana Pashkova

Translation by Eilish Hart

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