In Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, restaurants are the new public square. As the city reopens this week, it’s putting in place basic social distancing rules:
- Masks are a must.
- Only a few customers can enter a store at any time.
- Restaurants and cafés have to keep tables at least 2 meters apart.
But in some cramped quarters of the city, real estate is so tight that even 2 meters of separation is too big of an ask — so the city decided to welcome businesses into the outdoors.
The central square? That’s a pasta shop now
Don’t have space in your store to keep your customers at a distance? Just haul those tables outside. Soon open-air restaurants will flood the city’s public arena, taking over plazas and closed-off streets.
160+ businesses have already applied for an outdoor operating permit, making Vilnius the first major city to contort itself into a giant open-air café.
Long may the al fresco business reign
Turning to open-air operations in a pandemic isn’t a totally novel idea. During the Spanish flu, San Francisco held legal proceedings and church services in the outdoors to cut down on virus transmission.
All of which suggests: This summer, in the best-case scenario, we may all find ourselves sipping rosé in folding chairs in the middle of an Applebee’s parking lot.
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