Some restaurants in Romania tacking Covid-19 surcharge on customers’ bills

Foto: INQUAM/George Călin

Restaurants and bars have been pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic, with some closing down, laying off staff or declaring bankruptcy after they were forced to shut in mid-March.

Now, some restaurants are starting to tack a surcharge on the bill because their costs have gone up. Rather than changing menu prices, some restaurants have just added the surcharge to the bottom of the bill, like a sales tax.

Outdoor cafes and restaurants with outdoor spaces were allowed to reopen on June 1 as Romania relaxed lockdown rules.

But even if they’ve reopened, there are new rules.  No more than four diners are allowed at a table, except if they are family members, and there must be a distance between tables. Waiters are required to wear a mask and gloves.

The restrictions mean extra costs for already cash-strapped businesses. As a result some restaurants are tacking the Covid-19 surcharge on the bill. Romania isn’t the only country where it’s happening. Restaurants in the U.S. and in Europe have also added the surcharge.

One restaurant owner told Economica.net that the 5 lei (1.1 euro) fee was to compensate for the extra costs of few tables “and because everyone is doing it, other restaurants, dentists.”

Romania’s tax office said the tax had no legal basis adding it could be “ considered a commercial costs, like all others. If the customer is informed beforehand, and not made to pay it at the end, without knowing about it beforehand, it’s a question for Consumer protection,” the agency said.

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