French Regulators Give Restaurant Owners a “Sledgehammer Blow”

(p. 12) PARIS — France will ban heaters used by cafes and restaurants on outdoor terraces as part of a package of measures aimed at reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption, the French ecology minister said on Monday.

The French government’s announcement came at a difficult time for cafe and restaurant owners hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many largely relying on outdoor dining to comply with social distancing rules.

In an attempt to give businesses time to continue in their recovery and adapt to the new law, the ban will not go into effect this winter, when many experts expect a resurgence of the virus.

In a country famous for its terrace culture, heat lamps running on electricity or gas have flooded outdoor terraces for over a decade, making sitting outside in cold weather not only possible but comfortable. In Paris alone, some 70 percent of cafe terraces are estimated to have heating devices.

. . .

“Restaurant owners were already down on their knees,” said Marcel Benezet, a representative of the GNI-HCR, the country’s main union for cafes, hotels and restaurants. “Now, with this ban, the government is giving us a second sledgehammer blow.”

Mr. Benezet said that as the reopening of cafes and restaurants came with new health restrictions limiting attendance in enclosed areas, outdoor terraces had become the only place where “you can make a little money.”

. . .

Despite the government delaying the ban until next spring, Mr. Benezet said that since no one knew how long the epidemic would last, it could come into force at a time when outdoor seating is still needed to mitigate the economic effects of social distancing rules.

. . .

“We need more time to adapt ourselves,” Mr. Benezet said. “We should not be sacrificed in the name of ecology.”

For the full story, see:

Méheut, Constant. “Lost Winter Warmth: France to Ban Heaters on Cafe Terraces in ’21.” The New York Times (Weds., July 29, 2020): A10.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 28, 2020, and has the title “Cold Comfort: France to Ban Heated Terraces, but Not This Winter.”)

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