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1,200 Brussels restaurants might not survive past autumn

Credit: Wallpaper flare

1,200 restaurants in Brussels may have to close their doors for good in the coming months, in part due to the new Covid-19 safety measures.

The chair of the Federation of the Brussels Food Service Industry (FHB), Philippe Trine, said the sector fears a wave of bankruptcies in autumn. The federation estimates that at least 30% of restaurants will permanently shut down. Unions estimate a 40% closure rate.

“Many businesses were already having a difficult time, but since the latest adjustments to the safety measures, it’s turned into a disaster,” Trine stated on Monday.

“Now that people can basically only go out to eat within their own social bubble, it’s become impossible to stay open for some restaurants. Some restaurants are closing temporarily, others have said that they are closing for a vacation while knowing they will never reopen.”

The numbers include restaurants, but also fry shops and fast food joints. Small independent businesses with a maximum of four employees are hit hardest.

A representative for Secretary of State for Economic Transition, Barbara Trachte, told BRUZZ that Trachte is “following the situation closely,” but that the state of the sector will only become clear in September after most businesses will have fewer guests to fill their terraces.

Starting September, the Brussels government will make loans available to cafes and restaurants.

In July, employment agency Acerta reported that “69.5% of full-time employees” dealt with “temporary unemployment” in this sector, and that “only 1 out of 3 student jobs are still there”.

“Cafes and restaurants were clearly hit harder than hotels and other accommodations, in which the growth rate of cafes has been totally diminished” due to the impact of the pandemic, Acerta stated, adding that “this was a growing sector, right until corona happened.”

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

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