The active season of restaurants and other catering companies when people could be seated outdoors is coming to an end. Latvian regional television ReTV’s broadcast aired September 11 explored whether caterers are ready for the winter.
According to a survey by Latvian Restaurant Association, 8% of businesses have stopped work. Adding data from providers, it shows that the figure could be around 10%.
Jānis Jenzis, president of the association, said that the mood in the industry was less than optimistic. Since only people with a Covid-19 certificate can be seated indoors, in reality, the number of potential customers will drop by a half. “Unfortunately, this year will be worse in our industry. We will obtain more precise data in an entrepreneur survey, then we will report in more [detail],” said Jenzis.
Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association head Jānis Naglis said that the government has promised to minimize restrictions on businesses that have done all they can to work in the ‘green’ mode, that is, in a bubble of vaccinated or recovered people holding a Covid-19 certificate. This means there would be no comprehensive lockdowns of the industry.
Jenzis suggested that testing be made simpler in order to help caterers.
“Another topical issue that we have also discussed with the Ministry of Health and have observed in other developed European countries: more extensive testing capabilities. Laboratories in Europe are not the only place where tests can be carried out, people can test themselves at home, people can test before going to a supermarket, before going to a restaurant,” Jenzis said.
Representatives of catering companies say that they are already counting on a substantial reduction in the number of customers. Chief executive of the restaurant H.E. Vanadziņš in Cēsis, Jana Brēmere, said:
“We automatically have 50% fewer people than we used to because not everyone is vaccinated in Latvia, but our staff are all [vaccinated] and we let in those who can come in, respectively. One room is a “green” level and the other, depending on the need, for those who have negative tests.”
She added that the company is not expecting any more state aid.
“We’ve worked well in the summer and we’ve put aside the money for probably just having to stand idle or serve a very small number of customers and, in principle, have to work with losses. We do not expect any more from the State. We are pleased that our employees received downtime benefits and the company received support for utilities. We understand that a restaurant like it worked earlier, will not be able to sustain itself in the winter. It was hard to survive before, then it’s impossible in principle, well, and then we know we need to figure out something else,” she said.
Some businesses have already ‘fattened up’ for the winter. Jenzis said: “There are very many colleagues, I would like to bow my head in front of them, they have adapted to these circumstances, diversified their products, made takeaways, changed perhaps the content of the products, so that it is suitable for takeaway, and wonderful chefs prepare ready-made products, video recipes so you can enjoy very high quality, good food at home – they have tried to survive.”