A waiter wearing a mask and surgical gloves welcomes you at the door and, while maintaining a safe distance of two metres guides you carefully along a wide route through the restaurant, to a table where you take a seat behind a plastic screen.
This is the possible future being outlined by restaurant owners in Madrid keen to come up with solutions that would allow them to reopen once lockdown is lifted.
One restaurant in Leganes has already had the prototype screens installed to test the design of the hygiene petitions that have been built by the Llenatubar company.
The partition screens are made of methacrylate and are the sort that have already been installed at supermarket tills to protect both workers and shoppers from infection.
They would enclose each diner in their own protective box where they could enjoy the food and the atmosphere of the restaurant without fear of contagion.
“The price of a personal protection system for individual diners is around €600-700 per table” explained Manuel Gil, the owner of llenatubar.com, as he presented the system on TeleMadrid this week.
The restaurant has also been fitted with thermal cameras which detect the temperature of diners as part of pilot test that could influence the “new normal” of dining out in Spain.
Pedro Zamorano, manager of the Camarascovid company, speaks during an interview next to a thermal camera to detect the temperature of customers in a small restaurant in Leganes. Photo; AFP
This week Madrid city authorities said they were considering a proposal to increase the area given over to outside tables – or terrazas as they are known in Spain – to allow wider spacing to maintain social distancing between tables.
Other measures under consideration include a proposal by the Noche Madrid, an association of nightlife venues in Madrid to reduce the capacity of establishments by 60 to 65 percent and to distribute masks and gloves at the door after taking temperatures of those wishing to enter.
Hotels are already coming up with plans that they hope could allow them to open at the earliest opportunity which include issuing “welcome packs” of face mask, gloves and hand sanitizer to guests on arrival and replacing breakfast buffets with individual hampers.
It is too early to say when such establishments might reopen for business as lockdown as been extended for a third time until May 9th and “de-escalation will be slow” according to statements made by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez this week.
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