It has been certain since Wednesday: Gastronomy businesses will have to close again from November 2nd – as in March, at the beginning of the corona pandemic in Germany. The federal and state governments decided that only the delivery and collection of food should be allowed until the end of November. “The renewed closings are a disaster for the catering industry,” says Ingrid Hartges, General Manager of the Dehoga Federal Association. “Many companies have their backs to the wall.” The federal states now want uniform guidelines. “Many entrepreneurs are desperate,” says Hartges. “Some are considering suing the closings.”
Since catering establishments were temporarily closed in March, according to the Federal Statistical Office, sales in the industry fell by more than 40 percent by August compared to the same period of the previous year. In April, the slump was the strongest with a decline of 68.3 percent compared to the same month last year. Then a recovery set in: In August the decline in sales was still 22.3 percent. In her government statement, Chancellor Angela Merkel recognized that many hygiene concepts had been developed. But in the current exponential growth, the hygiene concepts could no longer develop their effect, said Merkel. The number of new infections with the corona virus has recently increased dramatically: on Friday, the Robert Koch Institute reported well over 18,000 new infections. With 75 percent of the infections, you can no longer assign where they happened, said Merkel. You have to get out of this state as quickly as possible.
“Every day is acutely absent”
Jonathan Kartenberg runs two restaurants – the Irma la douce and the eins44 in Berlin. “In the times when people were already working with limited sizes, no reserves could be built up,” says the entrepreneur, referring to the last few months. “Every day is now acutely missing.” He had expected a renewed closure, but feared that it would not last for a month. Therefore, he demands one thing above all: clarity. If you tell him that his business must be closed to ensure general health, he is ready to do so. “I realize that I’m not number one priority these days, and that’s right. I would leave schools and daycare centers open longer than my restaurants, ”says the restaurateur. He expects from the general public that “in retrospect, I am not the one to suffer because that is not my own responsibility as an entrepreneur.” He expects fixed costs to be covered. In return, he and his team are ready to help if help is needed anywhere. “We don’t want anything for free. But we need certain possibilities. “
For Giacomo Mannucci, owner of the Berlin restaurants To The Bone and To Beef or Not to Beef, the closings did not come as a surprise either. “I had this fear as soon as the curfew came,” says the entrepreneur. “I now have to send around 20 to 30 people home, on short-time work.” A concrete plan now has to follow quickly. “I just hope there won’t be a third and fourth wave,” he says. He will survive the second wave economically, the third “probably not”.
New aid from the federal government
Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in her government statement on Thursday that the federal government would “help the companies, institutions and associations concerned to get over this difficult time economically”. Extraordinary federal economic aid is planned. Small companies with up to 50 employees are to be reimbursed 75 percent of sales – based on the income of the same month last year. The new aid is expected to have a financial volume of up to 10 billion euros.
“It has to be a matter of course that the industries that make sacrifices and are closed to avoid a general lockdown get help,” says Dehoga CEO Hartges. The newly announced aid is on the right track. Now it is a matter of waiting for the details. “There are still a lot of unanswered questions.” Fast, unbureaucratic and sufficient help are now important. Gastronomer Mannucci doubts that the announced help will actually reach him. Even the first aid package did not reach him, he only got a loan. But if the new aids reach him, that could be a good solution, he says. Kartenberg cannot yet say whether the measures are sufficient. He has two companies, one of which opened less than twelve months ago. “I can’t stop there, I don’t have the opportunity,” he says. “Either way, I have to go on.”