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Wartime restorers for closing bars and restaurants in Catalonia to stop the coronavirus

“A death sentence for the restoration and for Barcelona”. This is how the sector rates the Generalitat’s measures to close bars and restaurants for 15 days and thus curb the increased risk of coronavirus. They consider that it is a “disproportionate and unfair proposal, in line with those that the Government has taken for weeks to criminalize the catering sector, in addition to being harmful to negative economic forecasts as it will cause disappearances of companies that they are already with the water around their necks, “says Roger Pallarols, president of the Barcelona Restaurant Association.

This entity that brings together businessmen dedicated to the hotel industry announced that they will file an appeal before the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) requesting a temporary stoppage against the Government’s decision to close bars and restaurants and the other measures planned to control the pandemic. Pallerols considers that the decision of the Catalan administration will not prevent the occurrence of new cases and will cause the closure of numerous businesses in addition to millionaire losses, not only for the 15 days that the closure will last but even for more s time.

At one o’clock in the morning the Official Gazette of the Generalitat de Catalunya (DOGC) published the restrictive measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by the community, among which is the one that has generated the most controversy: the closure of bars and restaurants for 15 days which came into effect immediately. The Government expected to publish these measures after the resolution of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia, which had to rule on whether fundamental rights are violated, although it considers that this decision does not affect most measures.

Specifically, the resolution of the DOGC will suspend, until the TSJC pronounces today, three aspects: the prohibition of meetings of more than six people, the suspension of face-to-face activity in universities and the limitation of capacity in centers of worship. The rest of the measures, such as the closing of bars or the reduction of the capacity in shops and gyms, will be mandatory. The Government details that these measures are taken urgently to face the increase in infections.

However, restaurateurs accuse the Catalan Executive of “criminalizing the sector” for almost three months with an “unhealthy obsession” to accumulate capacity restrictions, tables, serve at bars or a smoking ban that have directly affected the “viability” of many businesses. Pallerols considers that the measures have not led to a decrease in infections, but rather the opposite, which is why he calls on the Generalitat to “really address where they have the problem” with those infected, such as private parties that they cannot control.

For this reason, it regrets that the imposition of the closures is a “death sentence to restoration and to Barcelona since the city needs to create wealth to believe and these places are one of the engines to get out of the current crisis situation”. In this sense, he regretted the “desertification” of the city’s business fabric, which may cause the effects of the crisis to last for more than a decade, since when businesses disappear, private initiative will not be able to reactivate the economy. Pallerols recalled that the Generalitat forces the closure of 9,000 companies in a strategic sector that will remain without income but with expenses, in addition to causing 80,000 workers to go to the erte. For this reason, he pointed out that the “millionaire losses” will be counted by years since the administration does not offer “dialogue” or adopt measures of economic support to the sector to mitigate the damages of the closure.

The Catalan Federation of Associations of Restoration and Musical Activities (Fecasarm) estimated the losses derived from the closure of bars at 900 million euros and 50% the percentage of companies at risk of not reaching the end of the year due to this new period of “forced inactivity”. They plan to appeal the measure before the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) and request the suspension of the validity of the resolution by the emergency route to avoid closing the next weekend.

The secretary general of Fecasarm, Joaquim Boadas, urged the Government to delay the entry into force of the closure to the decision of the TSJC since “employers cannot be aware every minute of whether they remove workers from the ERTE or not, if they make orders or they cancel them, if they fill the refrigerators or not, if they take reservations etc … since these businesses work with a certain foresight and it is not just about raising or lowering the blind “. For this reason, David López, president of Fecasarm, assured that “the Generalitat has an unbeatable opportunity to correct its error and sit down to negotiate with the sector measures that are not so drastic and that are equal to or more effective than those proposed approve since they will only contribute to the destruction of companies and the destruction of jobs and the health problem will not be solved and will even worsen.We ask that those of us who know the sector listen and agree to negotiate an agreed solution to this conflict. Otherwise we will only have the option of going to court. “

Despite this, Joaquim Boadas warned that the closure could have “lethal consequences” since “for many entrepreneurs it will be impossible to overcome forced inactivity for 15 days, because since March they have been closing, time restrictions and occupation restrictions on terraces and all this after a disastrous summer season. “

The employers remarked that the forced closure of bars and restaurants for 15 days could affect some 35,000 stores in Catalonia, most of them small owners, and that many of them are already in a situation of insolvency, as they cannot face their regular payments, but “they have no obligation to present voluntary bankruptcy until December 31”. That is why he asked the administrations to exempt the restoration from paying taxes and Social Security contributions, because “postponing is useless if you cannot pay. You have to forgive.”

The Association of Beverage and Food Distribution and Logistics Companies of Catalonia also assured that “there is no objective study that demonstrates that hospitality and catering are responsible for any percentage of Covid-19 infections”, but in change the pandemic “will be to blame for the death of many catering establishments, distribution companies and their jobs”. They pointed out that hospitality and distribution employ some 300,000 people in Catalonia and contribute 7.6% of GDP, so “they are a pillar of the economic stability of our country”.

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