Brussels restaurant criticised for charging €5 Covid-19 supplement
Monday, 29 June 2020
The Brussels restaurant Viva M’Boma has drawn a lot of criticism for adding a €5 supplement for “anti Covid-19 measures” per person to its checks.
To compensate for the investments made for the safety of both staff and clients since Belgium’s deconfinement, such as plexiglass, masks and hydroalcoholic gel, the Brussels’ restaurant introduced a Covid-19 charge.
After one client shared their ticket, dated 10 June 2020, on social media, many people criticised the practice, with one client saying that she did not mind paying a supplement but that €5 was too expensive, and another calling it “pure theft.”
The restaurant was closed for three months, and now that it is open again, it can only allow 50% of its capacity, meaning it is still working at a loss, the owner wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page in response to the criticism.
“We decided to apply a €5 supplement per person, of which we informed every table [we served],” the restaurant owner said, adding that it only lasted for 10 days, and that the clients were understanding.
The federation of the hospitality sector in Brussels (Horeca Brussel) said that they were surprised that a restaurant was applying this kind of surcharge. “The federal government has granted us a VAT reduction in order to give us a little more breathing space,” a spokesperson for the federation said on Radio 2.
“I am therefore surprised that restaurants are charging a surcharge on top of this. Commercially speaking, I do not think that is a good move,” they added.
According to consumer organisation Test-Achats, adding the supplement is not illegal. “A trader or service provider […] is free to set its prices. They can therefore increase them whenever they want. But the consumer must be warned before making a purchase,” its website said.