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Caterers report nearly 6,000 cancellations as Covid hurts Christmas trade

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

Bars and restaurants in Gibraltar reported nearly 6,000 cancellations this Christmas period, the Gibraltar Catering Association said on Tuesday, as it questioned the Gibraltar Government’s view that the hospitality sector “is busy” despite Covid-19 uncertainty.

Earlier this week, the GCA said members had suffered a 50% downturn in Christmas trade and that many bars and restaurants were “in trouble”.

Business Minister Vijay Daryanani acknowledged the statement but said that the sector was in fact quite busy.

For the GCA, that was a suggestion that its members were “somehow being disingenuous” about the difficulties they were facing, adding the minister’s statement “could not be further from the truth”.

The GCA contacted 23 bars and restaurants, which collectively reported 5,915 cancellations to date this Christmas period, “with more expected”.

The association added that the number does not reflect the many 1000's of walk-ins that had been lost due to cancelled public events and a drop in footfall generally against the backdrop of concern about the Omicron variant.

“The Catering Association will present Mr Daryanani with complete figures including a breakdown business by business in the meeting in early January,” the GCA said in a statement.

“We hope that these numbers will help clarify the gravity of the situation for the Business Minister.”

“If the minister still does not believe the association, turning on any news TV station will show him what a difficult situation the catering industry is in at this moment in time.”

“The GCA is currently waiting for a meeting date with the minister so we may discuss the urgent assistance needed for the sector.”

Earlier this week, Mr Daryanani said the Gibraltar Government had worked hard to support businesses since the start of the pandemic.

“We have a track record of protecting our businesses,” he said at the time.

“We did so during both lockdowns and during periods in between that we thought assistance was required.”

“We hope that everything remains as safe as possible but the Government is constantly reassessing the situation depending on the ever changing circumstances related to the pandemic.”

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