We were forgotten in COVID-19 easing, French restaurants say

Restaurateur Jean Avarello is struggling to understand why in the coming weeks shops and theaters near him in the French city of Marseille will be allowed to reopen after a COVID-19 lockdown, but it must remain closed.

“This is not good,” Avarello said Thursday as he took part in a protest in Marseille involving several thousand people in the restaurant, bar and nightclub sector against the government order to keep them closed. “We feel like we have been forgotten.”

Protesters gathered in the city’s old port, then marched to the office of the prefect – the region’s highest central government official – where they secured a meeting to express their views.

Outside, demonstrators set off flares and smoke bombs, and one person, dressed in a tunic and chef’s hat, carried a model of a gravestone with the inscription: “Here is find my restaurant “.

France will begin this weekend a gradual easing of its lockdown, imposed to curb a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read also: Mussels need to eat: some Marseille restaurants challenge the closure of COVID

This is now starting to decline and non-essential stores will reopen this weekend, while museums and cinemas will be able to welcome visitors again from December 15.

However, the hospitality industry has been told it could reopen no earlier than January 20. Officials have raised concerns that cafes and restaurants, where people remove masks to eat, could allow the virus to spread again.

Avarello, owner of a restaurant called Le Cottage on the outskirts of Marseille, said he had already put his employees on leave at the restaurant and was unsure how long he could go on without income before he had to shut down the restaurant. ‘business.

“Tomorrow, if I can’t pay my rent and I can’t pay back my loans, I will have no choice but to go out of business,” he said.

Asked what he wanted from the government, he replied: “So we can reopen, that’s all.”