The shutters on bars, cafés and restaurants remained firmly down for the most part across Mallorca yesterday with only a few deciding to open to offer take away or home delivery services as they try to survive the new lockdown which, although supposed to be in place for only two weeks, is expected to last until at least the middle of February, according to bar and restaurant association sources.
The Balearic Health Minister, Patricia Gomez admitted herself on Tuesday that two weeks will probably not be long enough to break the Covid infection circuit in Mallorca.
And, the retail sector is also adopting a new approach and going on line.
The hostelry industry is one of the sectors worst affected by the new measures that have come into force ordering the closure of bars, restaurants, department stores and gyms on the island and Ibiza.
The restrictions have come as a huge blow to the hospitality sector, which on Tuesday demonstrated in large numbers on the streets of Palma in protest and demanded the resignation of President Francina Armengol.
In the meantime, the hostelry and retail sector have been forced to turn top alternative measures or simply close until the restrictions are lifted.
“It’s the only thing we have left, but we don’t really know if it’s going to be worth it. We will test it for a couple of days, we will see if the box is worth opening and all the expenses it entails,” said the owner of a Palma bar.
The latest package of measures mean that the bar and restaurant terraces have disappeared. Over the past few recent months they have made it possible to maintain some form of activity for bars and restaurants.
Yesterday, with the chairs and tables removed, the bars set up small windows to dispense coffee and snacks.
“At least until now people could sit on the terrace and eat something, even when it was cold. Now if they can’t sit down they won’t come,” said another café owner.
“The previous restrictions already meant fewer customers but over the next few weeks 15 days we calculate that we will have more losses, at least 70%,” he added.
Other bars have chosen not to open. For many it is not worth it, the numbers don’t add up and it also depends a lot on the type of clientele they attract.
“I can’t do it anymore,” said Mercedes Rando who runs a family café in the capital.
“We have to pull our savings to pay the bills. Closing the business means not eating; We just want to work.”
“This year we have only worked for three months and we do nothing but pay, pay and pay taxes,” added chef Kike Martín.
“The lack of aid is incredible and even if you do get it, it puts a lot of pressure on you. All I want is to be able to eat. We don’t have a job and there are five of us at home, we just get occasional help from the Red Cross and the Tardor Association,” explained Isabel Pedrosa from the Ayúdanos@Ayuda movement.
“My message is that we can open with the right measures, which many of us comply with, or that the Government be fair and apply the restrictions to everyone or no-one,” said Tona González and Débora Rosales who run a coffee shop near Avenida Alemania.
“We just want to work.”
“They’re bleeding me dry with bills every day and I have no more money,” said family business owner Xavier Comas who accused the Government of leaving everything too late.
“They should have closed everything down and implemented a lockdown long ago.”
“The Government isn’t helping us and I have employees who are not receiving ERTE,” claimed Pizzeria owner Markos Engelhardt who’s home delivery service is keeping him afloat.
That said, those establishments which did open to provide take away services enjoyed some brisk trade yesterday - especially from people working.
But, while bars and cafés may be able to ride out the new storm, the outlook for restaurants is very grim.
Restaurants are only able to serve take away or home delivery; but many of them have decided not to bother because it is simply not financially viable. And, the retail sector is facing a similar problem.
During the first phase of confinement last March, consumers began opting for online shopping. And now, the closure of many establishments due to the new restrictions leaves retailers with online retail as the only alternative - which will put numerous jobs in jeopardy.
The Balearic Government will review the new measures on January 30, but many affected businesses expect the restrictions to be in place for at least a month.
Tomorrow, the Economic, Tourism and Employment Minister Iago Negueruela, the Confederation of Balearic Business Associations, Pimem and union representatives from the CCOO and the UGT will meet to discuss the possibility of compensation for businesses affected by the shutdown.