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Restaurants ready to cater outdoors despite uncertainty of rules

Last week the Saeima, contrary to the government's stance, adopted a decision to allow caterers to host guests outdoors. Exact rules are still unclear, but caterers are ready, Latvian Radio reported May 6.

As of Friday, cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to host guests on outdoor terraces. The rules state that up to four persons can be served at one table, and a distance of at least two meters between tables will have to be observed. The caterers must also comply with all safety measures relating to disinfection.

On Thursday, government is still to decide whether there will be additional rules on opening times or alcohol sales. So exact rules are still unknown to entrepreneurs.

Caterers addressed by Latvian Radio (LR) say that they are ready, but the one bad apple in the bunch is that they do not know clear rules. Despite the uncertainty, entrepreneurs are preparing the terraces and menus.

“We're entrepreneurs. We don't need a week to philosophize what and how to do. Give us the green [light] and we work. We're ready for the launch from November. Give [permission] to work,“ said the co-owner of several restaurants, chef Ēriks Dreibants.

“We're busy, clean tables, floors. We clean up everything and do everything to accommodate the guests. Of course, there is that lack of understanding what we can really do and what we can't. It's exhausting. Can we sell drinks or not? We're getting ready for everything. We are waiting for more decisions,” Dreibants said.

Endijs Bērziņš, co-owner of restaurant chain Vairāk Saules, said: “The feeling is like the government is resenting the Saema and decides in spite that we cannot give alcohol to guests. If they asked entrepreneurs, they would find out that the time is different from what it was 20 years ago when Latvians were drinking and sleeping on the terraces. If someone comes and drinks a glass of wine at a meal, which is 99% of the customers, it seems to me that the government does not understand the situation or behave like small children.”

Restaurant Mazais Otto owner, Linda Mūrniece, is delighted that the quiet streets of Old Riga have been replaced by bustle and caterers are rushing to decorate terraces to accommodate guests on Friday.

“We are preparing for Friday, checking the weather, and hope it will be sunny. And in fact, we also accept bookings, because people have longed to sit on the terrace. We've already put out flowers, sorted everything like everybody in Old Riga. It is such a pleasurable bustle,” said Murniece.

On Thursday, representatives of the government will vote on whether there will be more specified rules for caterers.

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