By Cathy Elelman • 23 April 2020 • 20:33
BARS and restaurants in Almeria are looking at ways of making it possible to reopen this summer.
Thousands of establishments across the province have been forced to keep their doors closed under the coronavirus crisis lockdown, and as it stands there is great uncertainty as to when they can start serving customers once again. That said, the Junta de Andalucia president Juan Manuel Moreno is keen for the region to be among the first in Spain where the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Moreno had proposed that Andalucia should be one of the earliest parts of the country to see an end to the confinement by zones with the lowest rates of the virus, allowing for the start of a return to normal activity.
The President of the ASHAL Provincial Association of Hospitality Businesses welcomed the regional government’s standpoint on lockdown de-escalation, especially in view of the fact that Almeria has a relatively low number of infections.
But Diego Garcia stressed that, “in respect to the hospitality sector we demand, at least, that this is carried out with the maximum possible guarantees, at both a health and economic level.”
According to the ASHAL president, mass testing, especially of business owners, will be needed before any steps can be taken, and “once it is known in what conditions they will have to do their jobs and what health measures will have to be implemented, so if this means using masks, gloves or hydro-alcoholic gels, that they have guarantees that this material is going to be accessible.”
Garcia is also of the opinion that it will be necessary to “establish an action protocol agreed with business owners which allows for an evaluation of the impact that all this will have on each establishment as if safety distances have to be kept to, for example, this will affect premises in different ways.”
The association also wants to know what is going to happen in relation to the ERTEs, or temporary employment regulations which enables businesses to implement suspensions within employment contracts or reduce working hours due to force majeure.
In short, ASHAL is demanding succinctness before any decisions are taken.
“After a month and a half of closure, losing Easter, and with great uncertainties about a summer which is nearly upon us, we cannot allow false steps”, Garcia insisted.
“De-escalation is not only going to have to be progressive within each area but within our sector it is probable that it will also have to be carried out gradually, perhaps getting bars on industrial estates up and running first for example, where warehouses are already functioning, or establishments which have terraces and large outside areas.
“Everything points to the return to activity being slow and with a seriously reduced capacity on what each premises had before the state of alarm started”, he warned.
For this reason, he said, ASHAL calls on the administrations to launch “forceful measures which allow the greatest number of hotel and catering businesses to hang in there for the necessary time until they can return to activities safely and with good earnings.”
He ended with a reminder that the provincial hospitality trade sector “does not live from local clientele, but a good part of their profitability they owe to the large number of people who visit the province throughout the year, and mobility, for the moment, is not being considered.”
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Cathy Elelman is the local writer for the Costa de Almeria edition of the Euro Weekly News.
Based in Mojacar for the last 21 years, Cathy is very much part of the local community and is always well and truly up on all the latest news and events going on in this region of Spain.
Her top goals are to do the best job she can informing the local English-speaking community, visitors to the area and the wider world about about the news in Almeria, to learn something new every day, and to embrace very new challenge this fast-changing world brings her way.
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