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Venice’s Iconic Harry’s Bar Won’t Reopen After Lockdown

Restaurants + Bars News
by Eben Diskin May 18, 2020

Good news always seems to come with a catch. Today, Italy just reopened its cafes, bars, and restaurants, and announced that it plans to reopen its borders to tourism starting on June 3, but unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to visit one of Venice’s most famous bars — at least for the foreseeable future.

Harry’s Bar, an 89-year-old staple of the city, famous for hosting writers like Hemingway and Capote, and inventing beef carpaccio and the bellini cocktail, is not reopening with the rest of the establishments.

As reported in Corriere del Veneto, the bar’s owner Arrigo Cipriani said, “I won’t reopen on Monday [May 18, 2020]. With those guidelines, it is impossible. These are crazy conditions written by clueless people, and if they stay this way, we won’t be opening — not on Monday, not ever.”

It sounds like a grim statement, but it’s simply reflective of the new safety protocols required by Italian restaurants. Tables must be spaced six feet apart, ventilation must be increased, advance reservations are mandatory, and customers sitting together will be asked to reveal their relationship to each other. The measures are intended to ensure the safety of restaurant patrons and staff, but they also make it difficult for bars like Harry’s to operate effectively.

“I know I would have to lay off at least 50 employees out of the current 75 if I wanted to open like this. I am 88 years old — I could also retire at this point.”

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