Hundreds of people are expected to join a new protest in front of the parliamentary building in Lisbon today as restaurants ‘fight for survival’ in the face of restrictions brought in to ‘control the pandemic’.
This is the latest action by the “Bread and Water” movement which began highlighting the agony of the sector earlier this month in Porto (click here).
Supported by Bosnian-born ‘celebrity chef’ Ljubomir Stanisic, it has a figurehead whose past has been all about fighting for survival.
Stanisic has been telling reporters ahead of today’s demonstration that he is “shocked” by the lack of solidarity shown, even from within the sector.
Some of the best known national chefs “go on television”, he explained, “but are not able to face the problem that is affecting all of us”.
Stanisic’s plan today is to present parliament with the keys of more than 30 restaurants in the capital that have been forced to close to try show politicians the consequences of their decision making.
The enforced closure of restaurants at weekends has had an appalling toll on a sector already reeling from the consequences of the pandemic.
Said “Bread and Water” coordinator Miguel Camões, he’s hoping for hundreds of people today.
Daniel Serra, president of Pro.Var – the association for the defence and promotion of restaurants in Portugal – describes the protest as “a demonstration of despair”.
The objective is to push appeals already made in previous demonstrations. Restaurants want a reduction in IVA payable for the next year, exemption from the TSU tax and “revision of the obligation to close at weekends from 1pm”.
Today’s date is actually symbolic. It’s the last day for the payment of taxes to the State – taxes most businesses in the sector simply cannot afford.
Measures introduced so far to help the sector have been criticised for falling so far short of anything meaningful as to be pointless. Indeed, the Bread and Water movement has tried to explain if the 100,000 people whose livelihoods are threatened lose their jobs, the cost to the State in unemployment pay and subsidies could reach 800 million euros. Better solutions, in other words, would help both sides.
The protest is due to start at 3.30pm today, and will be joined by many from culture and tourism-focused activities that have been all but destroyed in the last nine months.
Updates to follow.