While Emmanuel Macrona announced a curfew from 9pm to 6am, from October 17 in Île-de-France and in eight major cities to limit the spread of Covid-19, restaurant owners feel they still have to pay the bill. According to them, forcing restaurants to close at the beginning of the evening means closing their establishment again.
Completed service at 21.00 In the aftermath of President Emmanuel Macron’s announcements, restaurateurs in Ile-de-France and eight other major cities will grimace on Thursday, October 15. From Saturday, they must lower the curtain earlier to respect the curfew to prevent any night gathering from 21:00 to 06:00. And this for at least four weeks.
“In Paris, we do not eat at chicken time!”, Condemns Franck Delvau, president ofUnion of hospitality trades and industries (UMIHÎle-de-France), contacted by France 24.
For hotel and restaurant staff, who have already paid a very high price since the health crisis began, this is the coup d’etat. Closed for seven weeks during the containment, their facilities will then have to adapt to the various measures put in place to slow down the spread of Covid-19, to the detriment of their turnover. While nightclubs have not been able to reopen and bars had to be closed again on October 6, restaurant owners see this curfew as a disguised way to force them to “close again”.
“At least the young people, when they are with us there is a protocol”
“For us, it is a punishment because it is a disguised measure of closure and we are tired of being the government’s adjustment variable,” protested Franck Delvau while compliance with the health protocol was praised by the Head of State. “At the same time, he tells us ‘the restaurateurs, you have made great efforts, you respect the sanitation protocol which is very strict at home’, and besides that we are slapping our fingers by imposing a curfew”.
In his speech on Thursday, October 15, Prime Minister Jean Castex outlined the enforcement procedure for the curfew and justified the closure of restaurants, bars, cinemas and theaters by the need to “limit risky behavior”.
To alleviate our care providers and reduce the number of patients with # COVID-19, is the only real possible strategy to limit the epidemic by strictly respecting barrier gestures and reducing contacts and social interactions.
– Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) October 15, 2020
“The President of the Republic said that the clusters were formed mainly in the private sphere,” responds Franck Delvau, who believes that alternative measures could have been taken. “There is only to close the facilities that do not respect the sanitation protocol,” he says, before the secret private parties are developed.
While the bars have been closed for more than a week, another phenomenon has emerged: evenings secretly organized in apartments, raising concerns from police headquarters in Paris.
“Of course, it will not be easy to be 20 years old by 2020,” admits Frank Delvau, using the phrase Emmanuel Macron used the day before. “But the evenings will continue: they will arrive at 9 pm and leave at 6 am, and Coviden will continue to develop in the evenings,” he continues. He adds that it would have been better to highlight the controls of these secret parties, often organized through social networks, which are real epidemic centers. “At least young people, when they are with us, there is a protocol”: physical distancing, a maximum of six people at the table, wearing a mask, provision of hydroalcohol and a reminder book, already mandatory since the end of September.
“There is no such thing as arriving at a restaurant at 7pm”
From Saturday at 12:01, restaurateurs must follow the new decree, the application of which today raises many questions.
“At present, it is still unclear,” laments the president of UMIH Île-de-France. “Can customers leave the restaurant at 21:00? Do they have to be home at 21:00? [oui, selon les déclarations du Premier ministre, Jean Castex, NDLR] How about deliveries? Can a delivery man leave the restaurant at 9 pm with a dish to deliver? “Asks Franck Delvau, who specifies that professionals in the sector should have a meeting at the headquarters of the Paris Police Headquarters to obtain more information on the methods of application of the Decree.
However, this measure is not feasible for facilities whose evenings and weekends are “the two most important services of the week”, he insists. “There is no such thing as arriving at a restaurant at 7pm. At the moment, the restaurants are empty in Paris!” may simply not open.
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“Many things have not been done”
“I noted the commitment of the President of the Republic to a goal of zero bankruptcy in our profession,” said Franck Delvau, “but we will need to introduce strong measures and much more than partial unemployment.” If the UMIH president acknowledges that the unit is very important to the law, it nevertheless specifies that partial unemployment does not solve everything. “Many things have not been done”, he continues, referring to the support that has already been promised before.
“We are asking for an exemption from employer’s contributions under the curfew, but also a moratorium on rents,” insists France Delvau, deploring the fact that the situation has still not been resolved on this point. “How do we pay our rent if we do not work at night? It is not possible.”
In addition, professionals in the sector are asking for an operating loss fund. “Bruno Le Maire (Minister of Economy, Economy and Recovery, editor’s remark) was involved and never went back on it. The government must work with insurers” on this subject, continues the president of UMIH, while the number of trials before the commercial courts for refusal to compensate for the restaurateurs’ operating losses.
“Otherwise, he will not keep his commitment to ‘zero bankruptcy’, and there will be at least 30% bankruptcy in our profession.”