are bars and restaurants really vectors of virus transmission?

► What are the health bases of these decisions?

“We are based on field observations and in particular on the census of clusters”, we specify to the Ministry of Health. In its latest figures on the Covid-19 pandemic, Santé Publique France estimates that companies outside health establishments remain among the types of communities most represented for the occurrence of outbreaks of contamination (26%), ahead of the extended family environment and events bringing together people (20%) followed by schools and universities (16%). Among the businesses affected, one in five concerns catering.

In Paris, “Bars and restaurants do appear on the cluster map”, confirms Anne Souyris, EELV health assistant at Paris city hall, who believes that “Depending on the day, they weigh between zero and up to a quarter of the clusters identified”. In addition, since the customers are not all identifiable, it is possible that the share of these places in the contamination is underestimated.

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A US study published in early September asked 314 people who came to be tested in July for what they had done in the last 14 days, and found that positive cases were 2.4 times more likely to have gone to a restaurant than negative cases. If this study could be criticized for its small sampling, “Other studies, in Austria and Great Britain, show that bars and restaurants have been at the origin of important clusters”, specifies the Ministry of Health.

In addition, in many places, images of crowded bars show that the protocol established during deconfinement (distance of 1 meter between tables, no table of more than 10, wearing a mask when you get up …) is not not always respected, and that the observance is still slackened after certain hours. Finally, “In areas where the virus circulates a lot, such as in Marseille, where the test positivity rate is 10%, or in Guadeloupe, takes over the ministry of health, frequenting this type of place increases the risk of catching it. “

► Could other measures have been taken?

While 15% of catering professionals could go out of business, according to Umih, the main employers’ union, many local players are defending solutions other than closure.

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“I am not in favor of closing establishments, I am in favor of establishing a contract with restaurateurs and bistrotiers to enforce barrier gestures and be very clear on the fact that in the event of a problem, there will be an administrative closure “, affirms the elected Parisian Anne Souyris, who also campaigned in vain for a register where each voluntary customer could have left his name.

In Nice, mayor LR Christian Estrosi, for his part, invited restaurateurs to sign a health protocol which provides for “Taking the temperature at the entrance, strengthening cleaning operations and banning smoking, including outside”.

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