We can expect food service professionals to reopen their enterprises in the last week of April at best – i.e. Holy Week for the Greek Orthodox – even though the government planning provides for the sector’s reopening in mid-April. The fact that food service is heading into its sixth consecutive month of shuttering is also leading the government to take additional support measures for the sector so as to prevent an avalanche of permanent closures, mainly expected after the summer.
The main support measure is expected to be the new funding tool through the European support framework (known in Greece as ESPA) in the form of capital to help businesses restart their operations that will be in the form of subsidy rather then a loan, Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis said on Tuesday at a virtual meeting with the association of restaurant owners (POESE). The minister also told the union representatives that this new program will surprise them. Further government announcements will be made in the next few days.
The government is also weighing another ESPA program, regarding the subsidizing of food service enterprises for the procurement of air sterilizers, so that their customers can sit indoors from the fall.
Meanwhile the government is preparing a regulation for the extension of professional leases that are about to expire. Although POESE requested a two-year extension and a ban on evictions till end-2021, Georgiadis stressed that the regulation will provide for an extension equal to the period that each company had to remain closed.
As for the health protocols – i.e. what terms the sector will resume its operations on – the minister told the POESE representatives that a consultation with medical experts will have to come before any decisions.
For their part, the restaurateurs requested that the sector’s professionals receive priority vaccinations, which according to the minister also forms part of the government’s plans.
Georgiadis also expressed support for the union’s demand for the exemption of the sector’s enterprises from taxes and levies to the local authorities for the period of their closure by state order, a decision that requires the nod of municipalities too.