Daily there are new horror reports with rising infection rates and urgent appeals from politicians not only to comply with the current AHA rules but also to keep social contacts to a minimum. For the restaurant and hotel industry this means - after short recoveries in summer - massive restrictions again. Despite the difficult starting position with high corona case numbers and a curfew currently in force in Frankfurt (11 p.m. - 6 a.m.) until the end of October, the "Cool Branch" - an association of Frankfurt's gastronomy and hotel industry - is starting the challenging autumn and winter season with creativity and an unbroken determination to entertain and accommodate guests as safely as possible.
"Even in times of rising infection rates, restaurant and bar visits are not a cause for concern from a virological point of view," says James Ardinast, Chairman of the Initiative Gastronomie Frankfurt e. V. (IGF). Ardinast seems to be right that increased controls in the gastronomy sector have revealed only a few violations of the current rules. "In addition, it has the advantage that in our establishments the guests come together for a celebration in a more orderly and controlled manner than in a private room". According to Ardinast, Frankfurt's catering industry has taken a number of security and hygiene measures in recent months to protect guests and staff from the coronavirus. "The member establishments of the IGF alone have so far invested more than one million euros in hygiene concepts". An investment that pays off - because only where guests feel safe will they come back.
At present, one topic dominates the catering trade, and not only in Frankfurt: the closing hour. After two weeks in which this applies, a first tendency shows: Everyone is struggling with sales losses. Ardinast does not believe in the long-term success of this measure, which is intended to restrict alcohol consumption: "With curfew, especially young people are driven to uncontrollable places. In addition, many guests will not even notice that they are visiting the restaurant, which in turn means a big loss of sales for the restaurant, which has just cautiously attempted a new start. Especially the second seating from 21 o'clock on will be lost. We all have to be careful now, but that our industry should be the scapegoat is incomprehensible.
During the past months, Frankfurt's restaurant and hotel industry has taken a number of measures. According to an internal survey among IGF member companies, they invested more than one million euros in hygiene and protection measures. Many establishments still offer their guests the possibility to use the outside area, if available, and thus enjoy food and drinks in the fresh air. To this end, the City of Frankfurt recently extended the extended use of outdoor areas until the end of April 2021 free of charge.
As a measure against the cold, which will certainly increase considerably in the coming months, electric infrared heaters are increasingly being used instead of the less welcome conventional gas heating mushrooms, which are more environmentally friendly and less damaging to the climate. To protect against wind and rain, many restaurateurs are also building protective walls against wind and cold for their guests. The city has made this possible for autumn and winter by toleration. However, the interiors are also being redesigned according to the rules. Sascha Euler, owner of the Naïv restaurant in downtown Frankfurt, reports: "We have installed solid glass walls in our interior because they have a long durability. We have fenced in our outside area with a porch, which is also made of solid glass and is correspondingly expensive. We have also ordered a new, modern ventilation system. In total our expenses amount to about 15.000 Euro. In addition, there are also mouth-nose covers for the staff and hygiene products."
Other companies invested in flexible Plexiglas partitions and mobile air cleaners. In addition, restaurateurs naturally pay attention to the observance of distance rules and the obligation for guests and staff to wear a mask in the dining room - except when sitting at the table. The names and addresses of guests are also recorded in accordance with the regulations.
"The risk of contracting the virus is of course present as soon as you come into contact with other people," says Kerstin Junghans, Deputy Managing Director of DEHOGA Frankfurt. "However, I can say for our industry: We are doing everything possible to keep this risk as low as possible in restaurants, bars and also in hotels. The curfew is generally disproportionate and is not based on any verifiable basis of increased infection. Most of the hotspots are private and uncontrolled parties. The industry is keen to help implement further alternatives to corona containment, Junghans makes clear.
Also here, everyone must stick together and help. That is why the "Cool Industry" continues to appeal to all Frankfurt's restaurateurs and hoteliers to observe the applicable Corona rules. At the same time, it observes that the vast majority of businesses are implementing the prescribed measures and in some cases even exceeding them. This also applies to the hotels. "Already in our own interest we adhere meticulously to the hygiene guidelines. It has never been so safe to stay in a hotel. We are glad that the ban on accommodation in Hesse has been lifted. Restaurants and hotels are places where social contacts are cultivated - and that's how it should stay," says Christian Henzler, Chairman of the Board of the Frankfurt Hotel Alliance.
More information about this can be found at www.coolebranche.de