‘Suffering as never before’: self-employed ask parliament for perspective
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‘Suffering as never before’: self-employed ask parliament for perspective

Credit: Belga

Belgium’s workers in the catering, events, beauty care and fairgrounds sectors asked for perspective and warned against a wave of bankruptcies in the Chamber’s economy committee on Wednesday.

“The sector is suffering as never before,” said Thierry Neyens of Fédération Horeca Wallonie, which represents the catering industry in Wallonia.

“Many colleagues feel abandoned because there is a lack of perspective and clarity. All in all, we have been at a standstill for 9 months, some even for 12 months,” Neyens said.

The support they receive from the public authorities seems insufficient to them. Their income has dried up, while the fixed costs remain and reserves are running out.

These different sectors require additional support, including the extension of the double bridging fee and exemption from VAT and social security contributions, but also from Sabam fees or market patents.

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Hairdressers will be able to reopen on 13 February, other non-medical contact professions will follow on 1 March. The other sectors are also waiting to find out what is in store for them.

The hotel and catering organisations are working together to draw up a protocol for the reopening of cafés and restaurants. Their ambition is to achieve this by 1 April, the current deadline for health measures.

The events sector, on the other hand, said that “if we start up again, it will still take months before we are profitable.” “There is no perspective, no agenda,” said Bruno Schaubroeck of the Event Federation.

“Our only prospect is bankruptcy,” warned Valérie Migliore of Collectif Horeca Wallonia. “We ask to keep our dignity.”

“The government decides where the virus can circulate and that is terribly frustrating for us,” she added. “We are going to die from a general lack of interest. It is high time the government took responsibility, we want to be able to open up. We are exhausted, it is high time we received help and were heard.”

The Brussels Times