France - restaurants

French MPs call for restaurants to reopen for lunch to avoid lasting damage

French bars and restaurants have remained closed since 30 October 2020.
French bars and restaurants have remained closed since 30 October 2020. REUTERS - CHARLES PLATIAU

A group of 42 French MPs has signed a letter to the government requesting that bars and restaurants be allowed to reopen at lunchtime, from 30 March, in order to spare the sector from lasting damage. It comes just days after the prime minister placed 20 departments on heightened alert due to increasing Covid-19 infections. 

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Lawmakers from across the political spectrum, led by centrist Richard Ramos, addressed Prime Minister Jean Castex in a column published by the Journal du Dimanche (JDD) on February 28.

They pointed in particular to employees who "are forced to eat outside or in their offices: these places are not suitable and do not allow employees to take a reasonable break".

The MPs said it was unfair that some workers face such restrictions, while others are allowed to lunch in their company restaurants or in other establishments, such as those that welcome construction workers.

Safety vs economic recovery

According to the letter, "Almost all in the restauration sector have complied with health instructions and implemented strict procedures. So why not hold consultations to allow all restaurants to reopen, while respecting health precautions, and make the necessary adjustments to government handouts?

"Such a measure would allow us to find the right balance between public health safety and economic recovery." 

The prolonged closure of restaurants and bars since 30 October has many fearing lasting damage to the sector, with the MPs underlining the "dramatic financial conditions" of restaurant owners and workers, as well as a likely increase in bankruptcy.

Making matters worse, many hospitality employees have been forced to seek work in other areas and do not wish to return to the precariousness of the sector. According to the authors of the letter, reopening by 30 March, even if only partially, could help to avoid massive staffing shortages, if the closure continues much longer. 

 

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