The hospitality sector has mobilized strongly this Thursday in the main cities of Spain and has once again requested direct aid from the Public Administrations at all levels: state, regional and local. Specifically, it demands 8,500 million euros so that the productive fabric of this business can survive an extreme situation after the latest closures and restrictions imposed to control coronavirus infections. They are not the strongest measures that have been taken to date, but they are the straw that has broken the camel’s back.
In Andalusia there have been concentrations in the eight provincial capitals, severely punished by the closure of establishments at six in the afternoon ordered by the regional government, except in Granada where the lock is total due to the high incidence of the virus. The Board has responded to the march with the announcement of a package of aid for 660 million. “We are in the ICU, in a critical situation. Politicians cannot pass the buck to each other ”, the president of the hoteliers of Seville, Antonio Luque, has censured. Some 3,000 people have mobilized in the Andalusian capital, according to the protesters.
The Board’s aid package is aimed at entrepreneurs and freelancers in the community affected by the restrictions. Of the total amount, 215 million will be in direct aid, 350 million in guarantees and 94 million in reduced or forgiven taxes. The president of the Board, Juan Manuel Moreno, announced the rescue plan after meeting with the presidents of the Andalusian Business Confederation (CEA), Javier González de Lara, of the Association of Self-Employed Workers (ATA), Lorenzo Amor, and of the Andalusian Chambers, Javier Sánchez Rojas, within the framework of the so-called Alliance for Andalusia.
Moreno’s objective is to reach “the largest possible number” of businessmen affected by the crisis, for which he has requested the collaboration of the Government of Pedro Sánchez and the municipalities. “We cannot do it alone. The Government of Spain must play an important role. All help is little ”, asked the Andalusian president. In this way, the Junta de Andalucía joins the communities with somewhat more powerful aid and the sector hopes that the example will spread and there will soon be more public support.
Vital and urgent measures
The protests have been repeated throughout the territory. And in Madrid, a letter was delivered to the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to the Vice President for Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, and to the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto. The document, signed by Hostelería de España, Hostelería Madrid, the Madrid Association of Restoration Companies and Restoration Brands, summarizes a series of measures that they consider vital for the sector. The Government, for its part, is preparing a special aid plan, as EL PAÍS announced this Wednesday, and has assured the employers that it will study the petitions.
Among the demands, some have already been assumed by the Executive and progress is being made in that direction so that they can be approved soon. There is no specific date, especially due to internal differences in the coalition government: Industry and Labor want to launch aid as soon as possible and Economy and Social Security prefer to wait for a clearer picture of the situation. Among the requests of the sector is an automatic moratorium, with an extension of the grace periods for the repayment of the principal credits during the state of alarm or the declaration of a pandemic, as well as a modification of the rent regulation that allows to eliminate the total rent payment or a proportional reduction. Demands that, not in their entirety, but in part, have been collected by the interministerial working group.
“Alternatives are being studied to enable owners and tenants to renegotiate their rental contracts in exceptional situations such as that caused by the covid. It is an issue that is advanced and that could be in place for a first package of support measures, ”say Administration sources familiar with the negotiations. Other measures are also under way, for example bonuses and exemptions in Social Security contributions, as well as a extension of the grace period and the repayment term of ICO credits.
The sector also calls for direct aid – lost funds -, use of part of European funds for the maintenance and survival of hospitality companies, the definition of a strategic plan for gastronomy in Spain and the promotion of a training plan specific. They also request that the ERTE clause that obliges companies to maintain employment for six months be repealed, since the drop in demand makes it impossible to maintain the structure prior to the coronavirus, and fiscal measures such as a reduction in VAT to encourage precisely that depressed demand.
“The extension in time of the pandemic and the weakening of companies means that the measures enabled, such as ERTE and ICO loans, are no longer sufficient, and the budget necessary to generate direct aid to the sector is estimated at 8,500 million euros ”, Maintain the employers in their joint statement.
The data released by the sector after months of crisis are dramatic: “As of October, 65,000 hospitality businesses have been closed, 350,000 jobs have been lost and turnover has already fallen more than 50% compared to 2019,” they add in the note. And the horizon is heavy with dark clouds. “It is necessary a structural and courageous plan to reverse the trend we are heading towards,” argues José Luis Yzuel, president of Hospitality of Spain. If not, he assures, by the end of the year a third of the establishments will have closed, up to 100,000, and the loss of between 900,000 and 1.1 million jobs, between direct and indirect.
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