Opening the terraces would not give restaurant owners a smile

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When you’re in intensive care, it’s hard to rely on an aspirin to get by. Without excess, it is more or less the state of mind of restaurateurs faced with the possibility of opening their terraces earlier than expected. If the Federal Council eases the measures in this direction on Wednesday, restaurateurs will not trample with joy in front of a leniency considered futile: “Opening the terraces, it’s a joke, a kind of palliative care”, summarizes Frédérique Beauvois, coordinator of “Who is going to foot the bill?”.

Consulted on the Federal Council’s strategy, the cantons gave their voice. Fourteen of them align with the Bern strategy, with some reservations, eleven others as well as the Conference of Cantonal Directors of Public Economy (CDEP) are only partially in agreement, and one canton rejects outright the Bernese medication. Regarding catering, a small majority of cantons claim the opening of the terraces on March 1.

Everyone has their own recipe. The Vaud Council of State already decided last week for an opening during the day, from mid-March. In Valais, State Councilor Christophe Darbellay, for his part, gave a rant at the observation that Graubünden and central Switzerland operate their altitude terraces in defiance of federal instructions. An unequal treatment that exasperates him: “Either the Federal Council enforces its law everywhere, or it lets us work.” His will: to open the terraces on March 1st. Geneva also demands to let go by authorizing the service outside, but a little later. Freiburg for its part pleads for a total opening on March 22.

Read also: The cantons want more oxygen for the population

“This is not serious”

What can restore hope to restaurateurs? Not at all. If the lights turned green for the terraces, only the take-away and mountain restaurants would be happy. But for the overwhelming majority, this half-measure will not save them from asphyxiation: “Doing things this way, on a small-scale basis and in contempt of our profession, does not lead to comment, storm Laurent Terlinchamp, president of the Société des cafetiers, restaurateurs et hôteliers de Genève. How do you want to manage inventory depending on the weather? This is not serious.”

Frédérique Beauvois drives home the point: “This reflects a crass ignorance of the logistics work that takes place when a bistro opens. However, we no longer have the means to have negative profitability. ” In addition, opening the terraces only would create unequal treatment between establishments. Restaurant owners do not want a stopgap, which is moreover arbitrary. All the more so as they are not sure of being able, if necessary, to still benefit from the aid for hardship cases.

For many months now, they have felt they have paid an exorbitant price for the pandemic, in defiance of the financial effort made for the protection plans: “We played the good soldiers, put plexiglass separations, we carried out the tracing, and that should have made it possible to put together clusters if the authorities had assumed ”, considers Frédérique Beauvois.

But what have they been seeing for weeks? Crowds of walkers picnicking on the shores of lakes, in parks or around take-away stalls, not to mention mountain resorts, where skiers sit in groups on the wooden planks of the terraces emptied of furniture. A joke. Worse: “A quibble for consumers, while we could better control the distance if there were seats, complete Casimir Platzer, president of GastroSuisse. This is why we are in favor of terraces for take away only. ”

“In Bern, they call me 007”

Obviously at the end of the line, the boss of the umbrella company recalls “that at the end of October, there were ten times more positive cases every day in Switzerland and that the restaurants would still remain open for two months. It is therefore unacceptable that with 800 cases per day currently, we are being asked to remain closed until May 1! ” And to summon humor to the bedside of bitterness, thanks to a photomontage in which Alain Berset declares to Bernie Sanders: “In Bern, they call me 007. Zero ideas, zero strategy, and that 7 days a week. . “

Of humor, Vaud restaurateurs hardly have any more. According to a GastroVaud poll, two-thirds say they are ready to take part in new actions, ranging from the protest to the illegal opening, including the payment strike. And their anger does not prevent their depression, since only 15.9% of respondents consider themselves in good health. Conversely, they are 55.4% to affirm to be in a very bad state or in a bad psychological state.

Consequently, it would be pointless to expect from their president, Gilles Meystre, a more optimistic speech on the possible largesse concerning the terraces: “If the Federal Council, to give itself a clear conscience, only announces that on Wednesday, it won’t. is neither sufficient nor acceptable. This will not ensure the profitability of the establishments. Only in the resort where it would be positive. Better to delay opening than a half measure like this. ” Where it appears that only consumers would be satisfied.