French cafe owners: We’re not virus police

French restaurant owners are worried about the coronavirus, but they’re also concerned that new mandatory Covid passes will turn them into virus police instead of culinary centres, AP reported.

Starting next month, all restaurant visitors in France must show a health pass proving they’re fully vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from the virus. For restaurants the new rule presents yet another headache after a punishing pandemic. Cafe and bar owners worry they’ll face more such trouble when the Covid pass becomes obligatory.

“Our job used to be to make sure that our guests had a great time while they were with us. Now, we spend our time reprimanding them. We weren’t trained for this,” said Louis le Mahieu, manager of the Parisian restaurant Les Bancs Publics.

Like other restaurants in the bustling area, Le Bancs Publics is already struggling to respect France’s oft-changing virus rules. It’s one of hundreds of Paris venues shut down for not respecting limits on visitors since French restaurants reopened in May for the first time in nearly seven months.

A draft law preparing the Covid pass requirement for restaurants, shopping malls, hospitals, trains and planes foresees fines of 45,000 euros for violations, which could be fatal to small businesses that are already struggling economically after pandemic losses.

For Gauthier Max, owner of nearby Mama Kin, restaurants and bars are no longer places of leisure but have become spaces of constraints and restrictions. “We’ve effectively become policemen,” he said. A collective of angry restaurant owners is scheduled to meet Thursday with the area police chief to discuss the virus challenges and try to find solutions, Max said.

Unions have pushed back at the new pass requirement, as did protesters at demonstrations in Paris and other cities around France on Wednesday. Tourists are also confused about how they can get the Covid passes before they come into effect next month; the government promises answers soon.

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