Andalusian bars and restaurants demand longer opening hours

Frutos hold a press conference this Tuesday.
Frutos hold a press conference this Tuesday. / ÑITO SALAS
  • An association representing the hospitality sector in Andalucía claims that around 25 per cent of businesses have closed forever and the figure could reach 50 per cent if the situation is prolonged

An association representing hospitality businesses in the region has called on the Junta de Andalucía to help the sector after suffering a year of losses and restrictions.

After witnessing a reduction in the cases of Covid-19, the sector has demanded an easing of the regional government virus containment measures such as the opening of provincial perimeters or allowing business to open until later in the evening.

The request was made after learning that 18,000 Andalusians had joined the ranks of the unemployed during February.

The president of the Federation of Hospitality Businesses of Andalucía, Javier Frutos, demanded this Tuesday (2 March) that the regional government should set itself the objective of improving the economy.

Frutos claimed that already “around 25 per cent of businesses have closed forever, and that figure could reach 50 per cent if the situation is prolonged."

He said that the sector believes that the time has come to extend the opening hours from the current 6pm, increase the capacity of establishments and to reduce the provincial limitations on mobility. He claimed that with the current restrictions, businesses can only take 20 per cent their normal income, which makes it unfeasible as they do not even cover expenses.

The business association head said that Andalusian and Malaga employers believe that opening provincial borders would be the most sensible thing, since the municipalities that still have high rates of infections are closed.

In the same way, he said that the association believes that the introduction of a health passport would help to control the situation and reactivate the economy.

Frutos confirmed that the sector plans protests and demonstrations at a national level; although at the moment they have not decided on the formula or the date, he maintains that they will follow all regulations because his sector has always been scrupulous in complying with health recommendations.

With regard to aid, Frutos said he regrets that the Andalusian region is the one that is helping business owners the least and asked for the requirement to be up-to-date in tax payments to be eliminated, since many business owners would be prepared to invest the aid to do that.

However, the Junta de Andalucía has warned that it will not extend hours or reduce restrictions "due to pressure" from anyone.

The vice-president of the regional government, Juan Marín, recognised that the hospitality sector has been “especially harmed” but he emphasised that the sole objective in reaching decisions is "to save lives".