What happened to France’s ban on restaurant terrace heaters?

This is the first winter in which restaurants in France can no longer heat their outdoor seating areas, but there are several exceptions to the new rules

The ban on outdoor heaters has been delayed almost a year, but it is now in force, but not for all

Reader question: I thought restaurants were banned from heating their terraces but I have seen several doing so this winter. Has it changed?

This can feel like one of those laws which is always imminent and never comes into force.

Restaurants were due to be banned from using terrace heaters in April 2021 but this was delayed to help business owners recover losses from the Covid lockdowns.

Read more: Polluting outdoor restaurant terrace heaters now banned in France

Finally, on March 31, 2022, the ban came into effect. There are, however, exceptions to the new rules.

Exceptions to the rules

The ban does not apply to bars, cafes and restaurants where the terraces are covered and closed on the sides, unless local authorities oppose this exemption.

The ban only applies to seating areas situated in public spaces, such as on the street.

Restaurants with private courtyards can continue to heat these.

Closed tents at circuses and funfairs, closed mobile installations for sporting or cultural events, and waiting areas in railway stations, ports and airports are also allowed to use outdoor heating.

The French press has reported a number of restaurateurs who would rather break the rules and risk a €1,500 fine (€3,000 for repeat offenders) than lose out on customers who are put off by the cold.

Others have opted instead to provide clients with blankets.

Outdoor heating systems release 500,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of emissions from 300,000 cars, according to the Environment Ministry.

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