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Covid-hit restaurants call for ‘compensation now’

Swiss restaurants are experiencing a second, and in some cases third shutdown in a year owing to the pandemic. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

Half of all hotel and restaurant businesses in Switzerland will go bankrupt by the end of March if they do not receive immediate financial compensation for the effects of coronavirus restrictions, warns the sector’s umbrella organisation.

Based on a survey of more than 4,000 of its members, GastroSuisse says 98% of its members need support, and that “with each wave of coronavirus comes a wave of redundancies”.

“In November and December, there was a second wave of redundancies in the hotel and catering industry,” it said in a press releaseExternal link on Sunday.  Almost 60% of businesses that laid off staff during the year had to do so again at the end of 2020, according to GastroSuisse. “So it is up to the federal government to avert a countrywide disaster and a third wave of job losses in the hotel and restaurant sector.”

GastroSuisse says it rightly warned in October that 100,000 jobs were at risk. “In the last months, the situation has again worsened particularly because of the government’s incomprehensible decision to close restaurants.”

After the first shutdown in spring 2020, all restaurants across Switzerland have again been closed since December 22. Initially announced for a month, the federal government is now considering extending the shutdown until March, with an announcement expected on January 13. It is also expected to announce new measures to help cushion the economic effects on affected sectors, which also include sports and cultural facilities.

Although the federal government has provided economic assistance to cushion the effects of its coronavirus measures, many operators, especially small businesses, complain that the process is slow and bureaucratic, and the aid not enough.

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SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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