The hospitality sector is the one hardest hit worldwide by the COVID-19 crisis. Firstly, because it was the one that took the longest in being able to reopen after the long months of the pandemic. And secondly, because these are the businesses that have the most difficulties in adapting to the new situation, due to both economic and logistical reasons.

All companies are suffering the economic consequences of the pandemic, but it is undoubtedly bars and restaurants that are facing the biggest challenges. That’s why it is interesting to find out how others are coping with the situation in the rest of the world. So let’s look at countries that can be useful for the sake of comparison.


Italy was the first European country to be struck by the COVID-19 coronavirus, so the reopening there has been very gradual. Indeed, businesses in the most affected places have taken much longer to reopen. And this is the case even though the distance between tables there is shorter than the one imposed in Spain: just under one meter – contrast this with the one-and-a – half meter separation in Spain.

New Zealand

Undoubtedly, New Zealand is an example of good management of the pandemic. With its lock down and social distancing measures, it has been able to record just 22 deaths since the start of the crisis.

What is its current situation? Generalised tests and a recommendation (yes, only a recommendation) to bars and restaurants to use face masks and maintain the distance between tables. There is currently no mandatory restriction.


In Japan it is evident that the international recommendations to stop the pandemic are not being complied with. For example, although bars and restaurants are encouraged to promote social distancing, one can see how in the most crowded stores and outlets in Japan’s biggest cities this seems to be impossible.

South Korea

This country had to deal with fresh outbreaks on such a scale that it was necessary to shut down all bars and restaurants again. With the reopening, various measures have been implemented:

  • Tables laid out in a zig-zag pattern with social distancing.
  • No cash transactions allowed.
  • Mandatory wearing of face masks for all workers.


Screens have been set up in numerous bars and restaurants in China to separate diners sitting at the same table. Furthermore, the staff wear face masks and gloves and take their temperature continually. Some businesses have even invested in ozone tunnels to ‘disinfect’ diners before they take their seats at a table.


This country’s government is one of those that has explained most clearly to its citizens how to behave in this new phase of the pandemic. In the specific case of restaurants, these are the rules:

  • Social distancing between diners.
  • Strict cleaning and disinfection protocols.
  • Good personal hygiene practices.
  • Staff must wear face masks.

United States

Reopening in the United States has been characterised by restricting the number of tables, the capacity of the venue and the opening times, enforcing distancing and providing workers with gloves and face masks.

Compliance with these rules is being strictly supervised in some states. For example, during August in Chicago, fines were imposed and several businesses were shut down for breaching the regulations. For this reason, many restaurants there are opting at the moment to boost their home delivery service.

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