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Coronavirus measures ‘are the death of the restaurant sector’
Chefs from across the country gathered on the Grand Place for a mock burial of their trademark white smocks. The chefs were protesting the effect of the coronavirus lockdown on their businesses.
The action was spearheaded by catering and event management firm Restauration Nouvelle, based in Braine-l’Alleud. Today is the 57th day of the “medically induced coma that Belgium has inflicted on the catering industry,” said Restauration Nouvelle in a statement. “Every day sees the sector suffocating at a faster and faster rate. To prevent its death, it needs effective measures now!”
The sector is angry that it has not been given definitive measures on how to prepare for any possible re-opening. Bars and restaurants will be the final businesses allowed to re-open as measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are relaxed. The federal government’s exit strategy points to 8 June as the date that bars and restaurants “might be gradually allowed to open”.
The food service industry is the third largest sector in Belgium, responsible for some 10% of the entire workforce. “The government not fulfilling its responsibility is deadly for the food-service industry,” said Restauration Nouvelle.
It then lays out several demands for the government, including that government bodies determine the exact financial damage caused by the closure of the food service industry, that VAT charges be reduced from 21% to 6% on food and non-alcoholic drinks and that unemployment benefits due to force majeure be recognised until at least the end of the year.