Bars vs. Neighbors: the expansion of the terraces reopens the war between hoteliers and pedestrians for public space


The lower risk of contagion in the open air, and the possibility of organizing the tables with more distances, makes the terraces the ideal place to start the de-escalation in the hospitality sector.

The businessmen were clear that this would be the first physical business route to resume, and this was confirmed by the Government yesterday. The terraces of the bars may open with 30% of the capacity in phase 1 of the "transition plan towards the new normal", that is, as of May 11 in the provinces where the pandemic is controlled (before, even, in some islands of the Balearic and Canary Islands).

For weeks the city councils were preparing for this possibility, studying measures to allow bars and restaurants to expand the space of the terraces.

The Madrid City Council has confirmed Direct to the Palate which has proposed to the hoteliers various measures in relation to terraces such as extending their season until March 31, 2021, reducing the license fee by 25%, advancing authorizations for new terraces to those premises that have requested the license of operation and is in process and study the possibility of expanding the terrace area.

The city councils of Barcelona, ​​Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza or Malaga, to name the most populated cities in the country, study similar measures, which value practically all the municipalities. @javimacias We anticipated, we knew that the only solution of this @aytoSeville for the economic crisis in which we move was to expand the number of watchmen by putting the city at the service of its living forces: hotels and bars.

- PatrimonioSevilla (@AdepaSevillaHca) April 21, 2020

Measures that have found a strong response from neighborhood associations. And it is that these organizations have been denouncing the use that the hospitality industry makes of public spaces for decades, especially in relation to the installation of night tables and kiosks that became general after the implementation of the Anti-Smoking Law. And the coronavirus could intensify this old controversy in a more delicate situation for everyone.

"Undesirable consequences"

In a statement, the Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid (FRAVM) warns of "the undesirable consequences that some of these requests would have."

In his opinion, “the request to extend the area occupied by the terraces by reducing the width of the sidewalk to 1.5 meters, nor the installation of tables on the façade of the establishments, is not acceptable. These options are not only contradictory with the accessibility legislation, but also with the necessary interpersonal distancing when walking, which requires a minimum width of 3 meters of passage ”.

Neighbors of the Old Part of San Sebastián refuse to expand the terraces | The Basque newspaper
This is how it has to be, heard Zaragoza?

- STOP Ruido Zaragoza Old Town (@StopRuidoZgz) April 27, 2020

The neighbors ask that, if the terraces are to be extended, the sidewalks be extended as well. And they are also opposed to the expansion of activity at night that could derive from this battery of aid.

The hoteliers appeal to solidarity

It is enough to carry out a brief review of the local press, and social networks, to see that we are facing a generalized conflict throughout Spain, which has been going on for a long time, but may flare up again in the coming days.

From Hostelería Madrid, the association that asked the city council to make the terrace licenses more flexible, they reduce the controversy, insisting that, despite what could appear from this statement, there is no frontal opposition to the measure by the FRAVM , and the complaints are “residual within the group of neighborhood associations”.

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