Many restaurants have been forced to close for Christmas Eve due to lack of tourists and lack of staff. Health restrictions are already prompting some not to open for New Year’s Eve.
The end of year celebrations will not be for French restaurateurs. Caught between a lack of customers and staff, many did not open for Christmas Eve. And for New Year’s Day, more and more establishments, which cannot be open all night as usual and will not be able to let their customers dance, are considering not opening. Not to mention the customers who do not want to take any risks and cancel their visit.
“We had a lot of reservations (for New Years Eve) and we have just lost 50% of our reservations. I was full, I am no longer,” Thierry Marx declared on BFM Business on Wednesday.
Same decision for Stéphane Manigold, president of the Eclore group. For Christmas Eve, the restaurant owner preferred not to open his six establishments.
“There was no point in staying open. Foreign customers are not there. These absences create sharp losses in our turnover, messy cancellations for the holidays. There were also employees who do not come because they are sick or if they are in contact, ”Stéphane Manigold explained to BFM Business.
The restaurateur does not say if he will open for New Year’s Eve, but already, several of his colleagues are announcing closings until the beginning of January. In Paris, the restaurant Le Servan announces for example on Instagram this Monday its decision to close until January 10.
A 30% drop in attendance compared to 2019
At this stage, it is impossible to determine the number of establishments that will not open for New Year’s Eve. Thursday, December 23, the Umih (Union of trades and hospitality industry) launched a study to assess the impact of health restrictions on the activity of restaurateurs in the months of November and December 2021. According to the ‘Umih Île-de-France, quoted by France Bleu, attendance could drop by 30% on average compared to December 2019. A meeting with the government will be held at the beginning of January.
“Restaurant owners no longer benefit from aid since they are not forced to close, explains Bercy. This study, which we will present to the government in January, aims to demonstrate that these restrictions lead to sharp reductions”, explains to BFM Business, a spokesperson for Umih.
Extending the deadlines for EMPs
The situation is all the more worrying as restaurateurs will have to start repaying in March 2022 the State Guaranteed Loan (PGE) they obtained to avoid permanent closures and the dismissal of staff.
“All restaurants are affected by this return of the health crisis,” Franck Delvau, president of Umih in Île-de-France, told France Bleu Paris. He proposes to “push back the expiry dates of the EMPs to 2023 and to spread them over ten years”.
This request is supported by restaurateurs, including Stéphane Manigold. For him, the EMP is a “wall of debts” which, to be repaid, will require a dozen years.
“We were forced to close by telling us that we had to borrow to deal with a shortage of turnover. We got into debt to meet the fixed costs. We are now being told that we have to pay back. I say No! If the State will repay the Covid debt in 20 or 30 years, I do not see how we could repay in a few months “, warns Stéphane Manigold.
In the absence of a postponement of the repayment deadlines of the EMP, professionals are calling for new aid and a reactivation of solidarity funds to avoid bankruptcies which, according to Umih, “are likely to arrive in number”.