Anger, disbelief as French restaurants ordered to close for two more months

Published on:

French restaurateurs faced the difficult news on Wednesday that they could not, as hoped, take advantage of the Christmas season to start rebuilding their shattered businesses.

President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement that restaurants and cafes would remain closed for another two months confirmed the worst fears of many business owners, already on the verge of bankruptcy due to ever-stricter restrictions on coronaviruses.

“It’s devastating, and it will spell the end for many of us,” said a manager of two cafes at 17 in Paris.e arrondissement, which asked to remain anonymous. “Right now, restaurateurs around the world are realizing that they will never open their doors again.”

As part of an easing of restrictions, non-essential stores could reopen from Saturday, with a view to ending France’s lockdown on December 15 – provided coronavirus infections continue to decline. A renewed nighttime curfew would then come into effect, with exceptions for Christmas and New Years.

However, restaurants will have to wait until at least January 20, 2021 before they can open their doors and terraces to customers.

Street steps

What came as good news for Christmas shoppers was met with disbelief by the hotel and restaurant industry, with restaurateurs dressed in black and chanting “Let us work!” – take to the streets for the first time in cities such as Marseille, Perpignan, Nantes, Nîmes and Toulouse.

More generalized marches are planned for Thursday.

“Cafes, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs … are paying the heaviest price for this health crisis,” said the Union of Hospitality and Industry Trades (UMIH) on its website, estimating that 50,000 cafes, hotels, restaurants, nightclubs would be bankrupted by the government’s measures.

To soften the blow, Macron promised in his speech increased financial assistance of up to 10,000 euros per month for businesses – including nightclubs and gyms – which are forced to remain closed for health reasons.

But restaurateurs, usually the last to benefit from state aid once it spills out, are not convinced. “The State continues to promise aid that will prevent us from sinking, but in reality it is complicated to secure and it is never enough,” the manager of a Parisian café told RFI.

‘Breaking point’

Stéphane Manigold, co-founder and spokesperson of the association Restons Ouverts, or Let’s Stay Open – which brings together more than 3,000 cafes, bars and restaurants – warned that the profession was “at the breaking point”.

“The United States will inject $ 120 billion to make up for lost restaurant sales,” Manigold told the daily. Le Figaro. “In Germany, up to 75% of sales are covered. When will Emmanuel Macron’s “whatever the cost” be implemented?

In the cities of France on Wednesday, restaurateurs and their suppliers, also hard hit by the Covid-19, symbolically hung their aprons on the gates of the prefectures, and their keys in front of the local offices of Macron’s La République en Marche. Party.

Meanwhile, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, the president of the Federation of Employers of France, urged the government to consider allowing restaurants to reopen earlier using what he called the ‘British example’ of a smartphone tracking system.

“The English are preparing to reopen their pubs and restaurants with a protocol where they will have to download a geolocated application,” he told BFM TV.

“Perhaps making that little effort could pave the way for us to open a little earlier.”