Cafes and restaurants begin to reopen on Thursday for the first time since mid-March when were closed due to coronavirus lockdown. Only the outdoor restaurants and cafes’ terraces are allowed to open again with a maximum of four people at a single table.

According to the protocol the operating hours of catering facilities have been reduced from 8 am to 10 pm.

All employees need to wear face masks and wash their hands frequently. Moreover, the number of guests is limited, i.e. guests may only eat and drink sitting at a table or pick up takeaway. Serving guests standing at a bar is not allowed.

Each business must ensure that the guests can keep a distance between one another. Tables must be distanced 1.5 to 2 meters apart with no more than 4 guests per table.

According to the protocol, a maximum of 12 people are allowed to sit at the table with the mandatory distance between each guest of 1.5 meters.

Each table should have a hand sanitizer, as well as responsible person to be appointed to control the staff to maintain personal hygiene – frequent hand washing when receiving and serving food.

Reinforced sanitary measures are required, disinfection of tables using a disinfectant that claims “antiviral activity” according to the manufacturer’s instructions when guests leave table, cleaning and disinfecting at the end of each shift.

The toilets in catering facilities should be regularly cleaned and disinfected, whereat hand dryers are banned from toilets and only disposable paper towels should be used.

Moreover, celebrations such as weddings, baptisms, and birthdays, are not allowed at this stage of the protocol.

The next phase of reopening plan will include operating of indoor businesses.

The cafes and restaurant owners who are to open the outdoor businesses today said that they will respect the measures, but still hope for certain changes.

Martin Angelovski from the tourism and hospitality chamber of within the Association of Chambers of Commerce said Wednesday that earning will not be high, but we can be better positioned in order to have smaller losses if more reasonable measures are included.

According to the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, time will tell whether the protocols will affect the work of catering facilities. The Chamber said that the opening of catering facilities is specific in terms of gathering in groups of people, which is not recommended.

The hospitality sector is expected to face a huge loss and it would take some time to fully recover.