The pandemic and restrictions have taken their toll. | Jaume Morey

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According to figures from the Balearic Institute of Statistics, 4,205 bar and restaurant businesses were registered with social security in the Balearics in the fourth quarter of 2020. In other words, these were operational businesses, but the number was 276 lower than in the October-December quarter of 2019. The 4,205 total was the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2011, when there were 4,111 and also when financial crisis had taken its toll.

It is true to say that there are fewer active businesses in winter than in summer. This has traditionally been the case because of the low level of tourism. But in the third quarter of last year there were almost 800 fewer operational businesses than had been the case in 2019 (6,375 versus 7,163). The reasons for the lower numbers in summer and winter are all too obvious - the impact of the pandemic, the restrictions and the fall in demand.

In March last year, all bars and restaurants were obliged to close under the state of alarm requirements. Since last March, their operations have been regularly subject to restrictions. When they were first able to reopen in May under Phase 1 of the de-escalation from the state of alarm, only the terraces were open. Capacities were limited but gradually increased. Interiors were reopened, but the "third wave" of the virus in December saw new restrictions from which bars and restaurants have been unable to fully recover.

At present, there is no service indoors, the decision to allow this having been reversed after just a week. This will continue to be the case until at least April 11. For terraces, meanwhile, tables can have no more than four people, who supposedly are from no more than two households.

The restaurants associations have described the latest measures as a severe blow. At least there is the prospect of some additional aid. It was announced last week that 26 million euros of state aid will be made available to the sector.