Coronavirus
Valley of México restaurants can only serve customers for take-out or delivery. Valley of México restaurants can only serve customers for take-out or delivery.

‘We open or we die:’ restaurants send a desperate message

Owners say they no longer have savings to help them survive the economic shutdown

Restaurant owners in Mexico City and México state have made a desperate plea to their political leaders to allow them to reopen to in-house dining, saying that their businesses will “die” if they are not allowed to do so.

Restaurants in the capital and neighboring México state were forced to close their doors to customers dining on the premises on December 19 after authorities reimposed red light coronavirus restrictions. As hospitals in the two entities remain under intense pressure from a recent influx of Covid patients, it appears unlikely that the suspension of nonessential economic activities will be lifted on January 11 as planned.

Consequently, restaurants look set to be restricted to takeout and delivery service for the foreseeable future.

In an open letter to Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and México State Governor Alfredo del Mazo published Thursday, restaurant owners issued a “call for help,” declaring that they can’t go on as the situation currently stands.

“Restaurants are in danger of disappearing. Since the beginning of the pandemic 13,500 establishments in the Valley of México metropolitan area have closed,” they said.

The letter said that at least 50,000 restaurant sector jobs have been lost during the pandemic and that restaurants no longer have savings to help them survive the economic shutdown.

“In addition, grace periods with our creditors have ended. We are in water up to our necks because we have to continue paying taxes, licenses, services, etc., and with our doors closed it’s impossible not just to pay debts but to survive,” it said.

The document emphasized that restaurants have invested in the implementation of health measures to ensure the safety of employees and customers, and said that international studies have shown that eateries are not sources of coronavirus infection.

“Parties and private events and even informal commerce have caused the pandemic we are living through today,” it said.

The restaurant owners pointed out that other industries are adversely affected by the closure of their businesses and denounced the fact that they have received no financial support from the authorities.

“While in the entire world extensions for the payment of taxes and services, support to negotiate with suppliers and even unemployment subsidies have been given, here there is nothing,” they said.

“In the case of Mexico City, support of 2,200 pesos [US $110] is being granted to some workers in the sector [but] while we applaud this measure the best way to help them would to … [keep] restaurants open.”

In closing, the letter asserted that the end of the pandemic and a “return to normality” is still a long way off despite the commencement of a vaccination campaign. For that reason, finding a way to allow restaurants to welcome in-house diners while red-light restrictions remain in place is urgent, they said.

“It’s about protecting the economy and health in a balanced way. We’re in a crucial moment for survival, and we will continue fighting to preserve this industry that has done nothing but generate benefits for the country. … We ask that the restaurant industry be considered an essential activity and that we be allowed to return to work. If anything is clear, it’s that we [either] open or we die.”

Mexico News Daily 

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