Ban on outdoor heat lamps comes into effect for French cafes and restaurants

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As a cold snap descends upon France, a ban on heated terraces has come into effect. Initially set for the end of 2021, the ban was put off because of the effects of Covid restrictions on the restaurant and bar industry. Now the time has come to finally flip the switch.

In a decree published Thursday, the government formalised a measure in the August 2021 climate law that banned heat systems for outdoor spaces of cafes and restaurants.

As of 31 March 2022, restaurants, cafes, bars and other businesses with a terrace are not allowed to heat – or cool – them artificially.

When the law was being debated, the government argued that heat lamps and heat systems are too polluting, releasing a half-million tonnes of CO2 each year.

The ban was initially set to come into force at the end of 2021, but it was pushed back to 31 March of 2022 in a concession to cafes and restaurants that lost business during Covid restrictions.

Now, though, businesses caught heating their terraces face fines of up to 1,500 euros (3,000 euros for repeat offenders).

Some cities decided to move faster, with Rennes, in the west of France, banning outdoor heating since January 2020, and Lyon since November 2021.

No heat, but in Paris, more space

Bar and restaurant owners worry that the ban will drive away clients, especially smokers who will be left out in the cold.

Parisian businesses may be able to lure some back when the days get warmer, as temporary, seasonal terraces are back.

As of 1 April, until 31 October, cafes, restaurants and bars, as well as bookstores and record shops, can apply to extend their outdoor space.

The temporary terraces, which take over larger parts of sidewalks and some parking spots, were put in place during Covid restrictions, and became popular in the warmer months.

The city is trying to limit their impact, as residents complained about a lack of sidewalk space and noise in the evenings. A limited number of permits will be issued, and police will make sure the terraces close by 10pm (compared to 2am for regular terraces) to keep down noise levels.

Some 1,600 permits have been issued so far, out of the 11,000 requests, according to Paris city hall.

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