Bring your own rapid antigen test for restaurant checks


Many questions remain unanswered around rapid antigen tests in restaurants, says sector federation Horesca. Photos: Jan Hanrion/Maison Moderne archive, Shutterstock. Photo montage: Maison Moderne 

While bring your own bottle has never been a custom at Luxembourg restaurants, bring your rapid antigen test could soon become a reality as the industry prepares to welcome indoor diners from 16 May. 

Under new laws to be voted in parliament this week, people wanting to dine indoors at a restaurant must present a PCR test result no older than 72 hours, a rapid antigen test certified by a pharmacy no older than 24 hours--which come at a price of €30 to €35--or they can take a self-test on site.

“You can buy the test beforehand and then bring it to the restaurant. We must ensure that the sample is taken on site,” said François Koepp of industry federation Horesca in an interview. “It’s up to the company to see if it makes the customer pay or not.”

While restaurants are being issued with a starter kit of rapid antigen tests, this could soon run out, leaving businessowners with the choice of covering the costs--in an already difficult financial environment--charging customers or asking them to bring their rapid test which must be taken on site.

But this brings with it another problem, as restaurants are under no obligation to dispose of the waste generated by the tests, such as packaging, swabs or other items in the kit.

“It’s complete confusion,” said Koepp. Public sanitation service Sica said the tests should be considered household waste--rather than specialised medical waste--and can be disposed of in the regular bin.

The laws foresee that patrons must pass a new rapid antigen test at each restaurant or bar they frequent, since the self-test results aren’t certified.

“We wonder what the point of this idiocy is to do a test in each establishment,” Koepp said, adding that in neighbouring Germany results are valid for 24 hours.

Koepp said the Horesca federation had received 500 calls on Monday morning alone relating to questions around the self-tests and how to implement them.

Customers waiting for a test result indoors must wear a mask while they wait. People who test positive must depart immediately, isolate and report the result to health authorities. The self-test should be followed up with a PCR test for confirmation.

Labour minister Dan Kersch (LSAP) is set to present further details around the rapid antigen test strategy in the workplace during a press conference on Tuesday as the government is making free self-tests available to companies and freelance workers.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.