The wait was finally over today for France’s food and drink lovers as restaurants and bars opened for the first time in more than two months.
In Lyon, a city famous for its gastronomic delights, the warm weather saw diners enjoy the outdoor terraces.
Loic, Kevin and Martin wasted no time in getting reacquainted with their local: they were ordering their first beers at Mos Pub shortly after midday.
“We live nearby and this is our favourite place, it’s so great to see the bar and it’s team again,” said Loic.
“It isn’t anything like drinking at home. This is our first beer today, but definitely not the last one.”
The owner of Mos Pub, Valerie Epitalbra, said clients were still adjusting to the new rules of wearing face masks indoors.
Staff at a nearby restaurant, Chabert et Fils, met their clients at the door. Their smiles could be made out despite their masks.
“For us, it’s like a rebirth today,” said restaurant manager Doss. “We were cut from the world, we were cut from people. We were staying inside our homes with our families, but it’s not enough for living, it’s necessary to work, to see other people, to talk,”
Loyal customers Gerard and Michele, who live around 100 kilometres away, said they were happy to be there for the reopening.
“Two-and-a-half months seemed too long to wait,” said Gerard.
Restaurants, cafes and bars have to follow strict hygiene rules. They ask customers to wash their hands with antibacterial gel and to wear face masks when inside. No service is allowed at the bar and a distance of one metre is kept between tables, which are washed with disinfectant after each sitting.
“We had a very good day of service today and had almost as many clients as ever,” said Gregoire Talamon, owner of Casabea restaurant in Lyon.
“The nice weather helps as well. We spent the whole day yesterday arranging the restaurant according to the new rules. But it’s not a problem.”
“Clients are very understanding regarding the new rules,” added co-owner Beatrice Talamon.
Some restaurants are asking clients to scan a QR-code with their smartphones to consult the menu to avoid consulting a paper one. Others offer discounts on takeaway menus.
In the historic quarter of Lyon, usually very popular with tourists, the streets seemed relatively empty on the first day of restaurants reopening.
Denise Buis, a retired local, said: “Yes, I am happy to see the restaurants reopening. I like to eat out, especially Chinese. I am not afraid at all to be here without the mask, but I am quite sad to see this area being so empty.”