The Catch-22 facing restaurants from tomorrow is that they are legally entitled to return to 100% capacity – as long as they construct protective screens between tables – but most of them not only can’t afford to, they don’t have the clients to justify it.
Back for the last two weeks, the businesses that have been brave enough to reopen have certainly not seen business buzzing.
“The government’s measure (to allow businesses to return to full capacity) is good”, explained Daniel Serra, president of national restaurant association PRO.VAR. “But it’s not going to resolve the problem as most outlets are working at only 30%”.
Said one restaurant owner in the usually busy Campolide neighbourhood of Lisbon: “How can we invest and increase capacity if we don’t have the demand? The 34 seats we have now, which is half our usual maximum, are sufficient”.
Another, in another part of the capital, said: “We can’t even fill the few tables we have! We’re definitely not going to ‘expand’, or buy protective screening…”
In Porto, restaurateurs haved balked at the visual effects of expensive acrylic screens, saying they will detract from the look of their establishments and make clients feel uncomfortable.
Again in Porto, the lament is that there is no longer the buzz of animated conversation in dining rooms, or queues waiting at the door for the chance of a table.
Say reports today, PRO.VAR estimates that 45% of the country’s 75,000 restaurants could ‘disappear’ if measures aren’t brought in to help save them.
71% of businesses are reporting losses above 61%, writes Correio da Manhã.