"They're leaving us to die," was the reaction of Javier Frutos, president of the Malaga association of restaurant and bar owners Mahos, to the 11pm curfew announced by the Spanish government on Sunday.
"Let's see how many businesses get through November, after a September and October with a reduction in revenue of around 70 per cent," he added.
That was Sunday, when the sector still hoped that the Junta de Andalucía would use the leeway given by central government to put the curfew back to 12 midnight which, business owners said, would make a difference between people deciding to go out to dinner or not.
When Junta president Juanma Moreno said on Wednesday that the curfew would stay at 11pm, and ordered establishments to close at 10.30, the sector's frustration heightened. Frutos accused Moreno of "going back on his word" as he said he had promised to reach a consensus over the measures. With that closing time, he said they would los
e their evening meal business and said the authority "lacked empathy".
The representative also expressed his indignation at the words of regional vice-president, Juan Marín, who said earlier this week that "international tourists have dinner at seven o'clock", implying that Andalusians should be able to change their habits for a few weeks.
The recent developments have also led to fears among business owners who were hoping that the Christmas holidays would mean a refreshing, albeit small, boost.
"A lot of businesses have closed but planned to open again in the Christmas holidays," said Javier Frutos. If the curfew continues until then, however, the traditional festive dinners will be lost as well.
The president of the Costa del Sol hoteliers association (Aehcos), Luis Callejón Suñé, said earlier this week that the new restrictions were "the final nail in the coffin" for the tourism industry.
"Who is going to travel under [curfew] conditions?" he said. "No one, only those whose obligations mean they have to travel."