Two associations representing the hospitality industry have launched a petition and sent a letter to the competent ministers to help the sector.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, catering establishments report having accumulated more than six months of administrative closure, which is becoming difficult to live with "from a financial, emotional and psychological point of view,” according to the associations Hôtel Hautes Fagnes (AHHF) and Restaurants et Hôtels de Spa et Environs (ARHSE).
"The entire sector has been at a standstill since mid-October and no causal link can be attributed to the hotel and catering sector as a vector for the transmission of the virus,” they pointed out in a letter to the Walloon Ministers of Tourism and Economy, the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Self-Employed.
At the same time, they underlined "the efforts made to comply with the measures imposed by the government.”
The aid received through the federal and regional governments no longer allows the sector to survive or to pay their bills, rents and fixed charges, the associations said.
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"The political powers do not seem to be aware of our suffering. (...) The situation in the sector is dramatic. Day after day, we are getting dangerously close to the precipice,” they said.
"Tomorrow, we will no longer be able to keep our establishments alive. We are in agony. Another month of closure and we will be talking about PRJ (judicial reorganisation procedure) and a cascade of bankruptcies.”
With a view to a recovery plan, the associations are therefore filing a list of demands including but not limited to a 6% VAT freeze and cancelling social security contributions and employers' contributions for 2021.
The petition, named "#SOS horeca # Belgium", can be consulted here and had collected 1,085 signatures as of 5:45 PM.
The hospitality sector in Belgium represents 58,000 businesses and 128,000 employees, according to the two associations.
The Brussels Times