what are the risks of contamination on the terrace?

Six months after having lowered their curtains, bars and restaurants are finally seeing the end of the tunnel. The service will be done first on the terrace, from May 19, then in the dining room from June 9; to a maximum of six per table and provided that the epidemic does not sweep away, by then, the schedule detailed by Emmanuel Macron to the regional press, on April 29.

→ READ. Covid-19: Emmanuel Macron details the stages of deconfinement

That said, the Head of State has already warned that “Emergency brakes” could be activated and threaten deconfinement in the departments and metropolitan areas meeting three criteria: incidence rate greater than 400 per 100,000 inhabitants, “Very sudden increase” of this index and “Threat of saturation” resuscitation services.

“It’s still sacred swords of Damocles above our heads, fears Hubert Jan, president of the catering branch of the Union of hotel trades and industries (Umih). This story of territories scares us. “

“No experimental study on risks on terraces”

The representative is much less worried about possible contamination risks in establishments : “We are still pissed off after the Pasteur study, to which many referred. But these are just guesses. There is no more dangerousness here than elsewhere. “

Released in December, the first version of theInstitut Pasteur survey on the circumstances and places of contamination had concluded that “Frequentation of bars and restaurants [était] associated with an over-risk “, attributing 12% of infections to them. Difficult to extrapolate this “Over-risk” to the terraces, the study based on observations made in the fall of 2020, when the rooms were open.

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“We don’t know much about it, concedes epidemiologist Yves Buisson, member of the National Academy of Medicine. No experimental study or epidemiological investigation shows that going to the outdoor terrace carries a risk of transmission. These proposals [d’ouverture] are based less on solid scientific data than on the need to restore optimism to professionals in the sector. “

Sras-CoV-2 is transmitted by droplets and aerosols, more threatening in closed or poorly ventilated spaces than in the open air, terraces would naturally be less at risk than rooms. “We always knew that we were less contaminated on the outside than on the inside, confirms Yves Buisson. But less does not mean nothing. “

Less than 10% of outdoor infections

In works published on February 15 in the Journal of Infectious, epidemiology researchers at the University of California reviewed several international studies on modes of transmission. They report that less than 10% of infections take place outdoors. Among the studies compiled, one, established by the Japanese health ministry, estimates that the risk of contracting the virus is 18.7 times lower outdoors than indoors.

→ READ. What do we know about the future “health pass”?

However, insufficient to conclude that there is a minimal risk of infection in terraces. This research is based only on the analysis of a few thousand cases around the world. Above all, grouping around the perimeter of a table and for several hours, even in the open air, is more conducive to viral transmission than other outdoor outings, less collective.

“The absence of zero risk on the terrace could have served to make vaccination attractive by imposing the health pass”, regrets Yves Buisson. Emmanuel Macron has confirmed the establishment of this « pass », which will attest to a vaccination or a negative test of less than 48 hours. But by refusing to make one “Right of access which differentiates the French”, he excludes it for “Access the places of everyday life”, like bars and restaurants.


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