Telegraph: Covid-19 in Monaco

Enduring Covid-19 in one of the world’s wealthiest countries per capita was always going to have its extravagant quirks. The fabled Hôtel de Paris remained open for the entire lockdown so that its affluent long-term residents could enjoy five-star isolation along with the general manager, who locked himself up as well to ensure its smooth running with masks and hand sanitiser at the ready and restaurant meals delivered via room service.

Now Monaco is easing its lockdown gradually and luxuriously. From floating breakfast trays and retractable restaurant roofs to smartphone menus and UV robots, this tiny principality that is also the most densely populated country in the world is prepping up for a new era of tourism with health and safety at its core.

The first task, according to Christophe Brico of Monaco's Tourist and Convention Authority, is to focus on free testing with the aim that the next few months will see every resident and employee pass the Rapid Diagnostic Orientation Test: a finger-prick blood test that identifies immunity.

Schools remain closed, but the wellbeing of parents has not been forgotten. Spas and hairdressers are open again with stringent safety precautions, including outdoor receptions, with disposable gowns and masks on tap. Beaches have also opened for locals to swim, but not yet to sunbathe, with lifeguards on hand to sanitise outdoor showers between bathers. Restaurants and cafés are scheduled to reopen in early June, while nightclubs and gyms will remain closed until mid-July at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the principality’s largest tourism group, Monte-Carlo SBM, is preparing for the forthcoming summer season as its Group Director of Sales and Marketing, Axel Hoppenot, explains: “We’re adapting our establishments across the portfolio. From hotels to restaurants and spas, we will be controlling capacity, guiding traffic flow and using stringent sanitation. Restaurant menus will be downloadable via a secure code to diners’ phones, while occupancy will be limited to one person for every four square metres. Instead of brunch buffets at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel, there will be floating breakfast trays beside the lagoon and sunbed dinners.

“Outdoor spaces will remain key to our summer programme. As well as making the most of restaurant terraces, we will be opening the famous retractable roof at Hôtel de Paris’ Le Grill restaurant.”

In terms of precise timing, Brico says the government is currently evaluating how the situation progresses. “The hypothesis is that Monaco will open to tourism from June 2 with special protective measures in place. For the first few weeks, we shall open to French tourists only [within] a four- to five-hour driving [radius]. If that goes smoothly, then we plan to open to other European visitors by July with a focus on German, Italian and hopefully UK. Our borders will remain closed this summer to any non-European tourists.”

He also acknowledges the importance of Monaco’s collaboration with its closest neighbor: “We are reliant upon French workers within the tourism industry and upon Nice Airport. Tourists arriving at Nice will now be greeted by an ultraviolet light-emitting robot that eliminates bacteria and viruses suspended in air or on surfaces.”

Looking to the future, Brico believes tourism will increasingly focus upon health and safety. “In the aftermath of Covid-19, tourists will be looking to destinations that they can count upon. As a 2km2 country, Monaco is able to implement measures quickly and efficiently. We aim to become a destination that is known not only as the most glamorous, but also as the safest and healthiest.”

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