No need to leave personal data for those visiting terraces
Luxembourg lawmakers on Monday scrapped plans to require bars, restaurants and cafés to collect data on their customers as part of laws aimed at restricting the spread of Covid-19.
The only change proposed by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel's government to the regulations already in place involves allowing restaurants and bars to reopen their outdoor terraces on 7 April.
Bettel had originally said that customers would have leave behind their names and contact information. Restaurants or bars would be fined if they failed to gather lists of guests which would allow authorities to trace and contact anybody at risk of having caught Covid-19 at the establishment.
But lawmakers decided to remove this rule from the draft law at a meeting of parliaments health committee on Monday.
It made more sense to introduce these measures when the hospitality sector was fully up and running and guests were allowed to sit inside, health committee member Mars Di Bartolomeo told the Luxemburger Wort.
Domestic tracing app ruled out
The plan for the contact tracing through restaurants came as Luxembourg ruled out the use of a tracing app over data protection and privacy concerns last year. A particular problem with a local app would be whether it could effectively trace residents who had contacted someone with Covid-19 while visiting a neighbouring country, Bettel said at the time.
Bettel raised the promise of outdoor gatherings last week when announcing the continuation of other Covid-19 restrictions, while also cautioning that the small step toward normality could be cancelled if conditions worsened.
The risks that eating and drinking on terraces could spread coronavirus were weighed and officials decided it was the smallest acceptable risk and "symbolically an important step", he said.
The planned terrace opening only concerns establishments with authorisation to operate an outdoor service area and excludes venues with occasional terrace service. Outdoor dining and drinking would be allowed between 6.00 and 18.00. Guests must wear masks except when they are seated at tables, which cannot accommodate more than two people from separate households.
Rapid testing plans
An extra tool for safely loosening restrictions is also advancing.
About 550,000 nasal and throat rapid test kits out of 2.05 million ordered have been delivered to Luxembourg, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
The tests will be distributed for frequent and fast checks for coronavirus to hospitals, nursing and care homes for the elderly, doctors offices, the country's prison in Schrassig, the army and sports organisations.
Six schools began using the tests – which yield results in hours rather than a day as needed for the more precise PCR tests – last Wednesday. All schools will use the rapid tests after the Easter holidays, with each of the country's 107,000 students being tested once a week.
(Additional reporting by Michele Gantenbein)