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Greece’s Covid-hit Restaurant Owners See 40% Decline in Turnover

Greece’s food and beverages (F&B) sector suffered a massive shock in 2020 due to Covid-19 lockdown measures recording a 40 percent decline in turnover, according to the Panhellenic Federation of Restaurants and Related Professions (POESE). 

According to federation data presented on Thursday, 75.38 percent of all restaurant businesses suspended operations ins 2020 leaving some 200,000 employees in furlough programs.

“An estimated 200,000 employees in the industry are on furlough. These jobs are at risk as more than four in 10 F&B businesses appear to be experiencing serious liquidity problems,” said the federation, adding that there may be sudden increase in unemployment if these companies proceed with dismissals when state aid stops.

“This will be the result of either cessation of business activity or the burden of accumulated liabilities and reduced demand, as the return to economic and social ‘normalcy’ will not be carried out automatically but gradually,” the federation said.

Thursday’s event is a runup to March 31, when POESE members will hand over their keys to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis protesting against Covid-19 restrictions which are keeping their establishments closed.

Similar actions running under the motto “The Keys to F&B” took place last month in Athens, Thessaloniki, other cities and on the islands.

Greece’s restaurant owners call on the Greek government to offer “oxygen” to the F&B sector that is “suffocating” due to Covid-19 restrictions. During protests in large Greek cities, they symbolically hand over their keys to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Besides the data, POESE announced a decision to seek legal action for the damages suffered, and also proposed a series of initial measures to support the industry at restart. 

To address the issues at hand, POESE is calling for working capital which will help restart operations; subsidies supporting employment and 100 percent coverage of social insurance contributions for six months after restart; adjustment for debts created during the crisis and allowing payments in 120 installments; exemption from municipal fees and taxes during lockdown, reduced fees for six months after restart; rent subsidies, extension of commercial leases, and a ban on evictions; sector inclusion in NSRF funding programs; and VAT rate reduction to 6 percent.

Based on Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) data, 2020 turnover for F&B services providers dropped by 37.7 percent against in 2019. Additional research found that nine in 10 small and very small F&B enterprises recorded a decrease in turnover in 2020 by 51.7 percent on average.

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