The Controversial End of Tapas: Social Life in Spain’s Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca After the Coronavirus Crisis

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Credit: reuters

One thing the Spaniards imagined they would have to become accustomed to after the coronavirus crisis is to lay off the hugs, kisses and handshakes for a while, however, getting rid of sharing food and ordering tapas is a whole other ballpark which neither residents nor bars expected.

THE use of the phrase a ‘new normality’ seems rather paradoxical when there is nothing normal about this completely exceptional situation. One thing is for people to stop resorting to physical contact, like hugs and kisses, another is to wait in a long supermarket line whilst respecting security distances but the icing on the cake for a Spanish society is to tell a bar that when they reopen popular sharing dishes, tapas, will no longer be a part in this ‘new normality.’

One of the measures included in the plan proposed by the Andalucian government in order to accelerate the revival of its tourism industry has been the idea that bars and restaurants must adapt to new health standards which fit the current coronavirus climate. Amongst these new standards is the idea that sharing food and plates will be forbidden.

Other measures include limiting the capacity of people allowed at the establishment and putting a limit on the time they spend there. It also suggests that reservations of over four people cannot be accepted, unless they have proof that they live together. Tables and seating areas will have to be expanded to make space between customers and of course cutlery will have to be individually assigned.

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It is difficult to image a Spain without tapas and its culture of sharing. This unpredictable climate of regulations and restrictions makes it no surprise that within the hospitality sector many are already considering that they will not be able to reopen.

Although it is early to calculate the exact damage this will bring, the sector calculates that in Spain only one bar in two and one restaurant in three will reopen. Many small establishments will not make it through these months without a steady income, nor are they going to be able to invest in what is necessary to adapt to the reopening standards.

On the other side, hoteliers are in such a hurry that they are even buying screens which is a considerable risk given that it is not even clear if they will be the norm. Speaking with other small businessmen, they consider that whilst regulations are being clarified they are taking advantage to prepare an online presence for the restaurant and building a website that they had never had time to do. They believe that a digital boost to business can help them sell more at home, especially now given that many people will prefer to eat at home for a while.


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