GCA urges Govt to review assistance as trade remains slows
The Gibraltar Catering Association has called on the Gibraltar Government to review the assistance offered to the catering industry in March, given trading levels due to current restrictions “are extremely low”.
The catering industry has been one of the worst-hit sectors of the economy due to lockdown restrictions, which forced them to close to customers in order to stem the spread of Covid-19.
While restaurants and bars have been allowed to reopen, they are still subject to tight restrictions limiting numbers and curtailing the sale of alcohol during the afternoon.
In a statement, the GCA said the remaining restrictions were “unjustified” because bars and restaurants have “not been proven to be vectors for the transmission of the Covid virus”.
The vast majority of customers and establishments comply with strict hygiene and social distancing procedures, it said.
“The unexpected and unexplained 3-7pm alcohol ban particularly has caused frustration amongst owners as this has had a negative effect on trading and caused a significant amount of weekend booking cancellations resulting in local families opting to go to Spain in the afternoons where virus numbers are significantly higher with far less people vaccinated,” the statement said.
“Members have also reported moments of embarrassment with having to remove alcoholic beverages from customers tables during Sunday lunchtime.”
The association said that the adverse impact to the trade and subsequent financial losses caused by the restrictions “far outweighed” the 30% Beat and assistance package offered to both retail, which is less restricted, and hospitality for March.
This is before any kind of market analysis that would Although there is no market analysis to underpin this, the GCA said consumer and tourism confidence remained low.
“The reality is, that with current restrictions, financial losses are being incurred whilst bars and restaurants remain open,” the GCA said.
“For catering establishments, the hard fight for survival begins now, trying to make a living whilst battling through a mountain of debt and footfall being lower than ever.”
“It would be a shame for businesses to fail now when we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The GCA said it had consulted its membership on these issues and many establishments highlighted the same problems and concerns.
“Some have closed doors this week and others are considering closure till rules are lifted,” the GCA said.
“For many venues running at a loss after the financial hardship of locking down their businesses is not an option.”
The GCA said it was aware that the 3-7pm curfew will be reviewed this week and possibly lifted if cases remain low.
“However, restricted table sizes also need to be looked at ahead of Mother’s Day where families are often more than six and wish to dine together,” it added.
“The association once again reiterates its offer of assistance to the Government and consult the affected catering fraternity as the changes to restrictions are introduced.”