PM promises ‘concrete measures’ to help restaurants stymied by weekend lockdowns

PM António Costa has promised ‘concrete measures’ to help restaurants forced to shut during looming weekend borough lockdowns.

In response to the anguished pleas by restaurateurs yesterday, Mr Costa used a television interview with TVI to stress the government is planning ‘compensation for lost income’ to all establishments caught by the new rules which limit hours of business in 121 boroughs where virus transmission is running high (that is, where the incidence of Covid-19 has exceeded the government limit of an average of 240 cases per population of 100,000 over a 14-day period).

Said Mr Costa, the specific support package will be approved this week, and is part of the €1.55 billion recently ‘announced’ by economy minister Pedro Siza Vieira to help micro, small and medium-sized businesses (click here).

He explained amounts will be calculated according to the ‘e-fatura’ system run by the tax authority portal.

Through this, the government “will be able to know what the income of each restaurant is, and what theoretically they stand to lose. We will calculate an average – either from the whole year, or the last weekend in which data is available. We haven’t fixed the criteria yet”, he explained.

Whether this will satisfy the sector remains to be seen. The PM said he would be talking to restaurant associations “throughout the week” – and accepted wholeheartedly that the situation of restaurants is ‘very different’ to that of hotels/ local commerce, as their prospects during the weekend ‘lockdowns’ involve absolute losses (bearing in mind they have to be closed for both lunches and dinners).

One point Mr Costa did stress however was that the State of Emergency is not calling a halt on any ‘inter-borough circulation’ (meaning people can still enter boroughs that are in partial lockdown due to high numbers of infections). The only aspect limited, the PM explained, is ‘hours of circulation’.

[email protected]