Luxembourgh Times
covid law

Meeting for a meal or drink could have a new cost

Restaurants and bars must wrestle with who will pay for customer testing at the door

© Photo credit: Guy Wolff

Restaurants and bars are preparing to allow customers to drink and eat indoors again from this weekend, but it is still unclear who will pay for thousands of rapid self-tests that patrons could be required to take before entering.

The country's roughly 2,700 hospitality businesses will receive 500,000 self-tests their guests can use, Labour Minister Dan Kersch told members of Parliament on Tuesday. After that supply averaging 185 tests per establishment runs out, the businesses will be on their own, Kersch said.

Parliament will meet to approve a new law extending restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of Covid-19 on Friday, which would allow customers inside restaurants and bars for the first time in more than six months, though only if they can show test results indicating they are free of the coronavirus.

Proof could come either by showing negative results of a PCR test that is less than 72 hours old, a negative rapid antigenic test performed in the past day or a self-diagnostic test that can be done on the sidewalk outside a restaurant.

Who will pay for future shipments of the mandatory rapid tests is one of the unanswered questions ahead of further reopening beginning on Sunday, said François Koepp, general secretary of the the industry lobby group Horesca.

Whether restaurants and bars decide to add the cost of additional test kits to each customer's account will depend on how each is doing, Koepp told Luxembourg Times on Tuesday.

Businesses are already receiving separate deliveries of self-tests for their employees, the trade association said.

More than four dozen tests sold by several companies are officially recommended and recognised in Luxembourg, according to the Health Ministry. Three brands sold at Pharmacie Mergen in Diekirch cost between €3.80 and €7.60 per test, according to the pharmacy's web site.

Post Luxembourg is distributing rapid tests to nearly 2,700 bars and restaurants, around 100 pharmacies and 85 large companies, the state-owned company said. Another 56,000 small- and medium-sized businesses will receive vouchers to collect tests at distribution sites, the company said.

The government is also providing 5.7 million self-tests to companies around the country, so that beginning on Monday each employee could check themselves twice a week for the next six weeks, Kersch said.

While employers will be expected to give their workers the means to test themselves, they will not be responsible if employees don't follow through with testing or otherwise become infected, Kersch said.