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While Europe is reconfiguring itself in the face of the onslaught of the pandemic, the protest is growing in a restaurant sector laminated by months of closure and the lack of prospects.

Christina, Laurent, Jiri and Martin: from Geneva to Sofia, AFP met four representatives who recount the impact of the health crisis on their profession.

– “Never give up” –

“Dying of boredom”: at the entrance of a Viennese café, a skeleton in waiter attire brandishes a sign that reflects the state of mind of the boss, Christina Hummel.

The third generation of her family to run the establishment of the same name, she recently participated in a symbolic action to express her dismay at the third confinement of Austria.

“We are trying to get through the crisis in a creative and positive way”, confides to AFP this 44-year-old manager, blond square and black mask, in front of the room with subdued decor and soft benches.

But she says she is discouraged by the government’s constant reversals. Many people in the area have the feeling of being “strolled from week to week”, she regrets.

On the other hand, no question for her to violate the rules. “I would not do anything that gets me into trouble or forces me to pay a fine,” said Christina Hummel, recalling that she has a six-year-old son and employees to support.

And to stress the fact that she is aware of the “gravity” of the situation: “I am neither a coronasceptic nor a conspiracy theorist”, insists this “passionate” who keeps hope in the long term.

“The culture of Viennese cafes has already gone through several crises and this way of life will never disappear. As the saying goes, + a true Viennese never gives up +”.

– “Already too late” –

In Geneva, Laurent Terlinchamp is less optimistic.

President of the Society of Cafetiers, Restaurateurs and Hoteliers, he helplessly witnesses serial bankruptcies. The members are in “despair”, heavy with “the responsibility of collaborators that they cannot pay, of charges” that they cannot honor, “of a future that no longer exists”.

“For 30% of them, which corresponds to more than 600 companies, it is already too late”, he says.

He too deplores the uncertainty: “What matters to me is to know when we are going to reopen in viable conditions”, and by then “to have sufficient aid” to say to himself: “I will not. not lose my business, that is to say my life “.

– In resistance –

In order not to be in the dark, the Czech Jiri Janacek has chosen to rebel.

Since December 9, he has once again been welcoming customers to his small brewery, Maly Janek, located about forty kilometers south of Prague, openly defying the restrictions.

“We lost our patience when the government changed the rules three times in a single week,” said the former right-wing politician.

In this country which is the world champion in beer consumption, he organized at the beginning of January, together with other restaurateurs, a chain of mugs one kilometer long in the city center of Prague.

“I will never fold” despite the visits of the police or the fines of the health authorities, he promises, sweeping the risk that his pub does not become a hotbed of contamination.

– “One day”, when we reopen … –

About a thousand kilometers away, in Bulgaria, Martin Mihaylov is also mobilizing.

The 41-year-old man, who runs three bars which are major nightlife spots in Sofia, planned to take to the streets on Wednesday to denounce the “lack of state support” and defend his “freedom”.

“The authorities have never respected the given schedule. We can no longer accept such treatment!”, He loses his temper in one of his deserted establishments, Terminal 1, cap screwed on his head.

“We will not do it out of heart but we may have to end up breaking the law,” warns Martin, while thanking his creditors for their “help and tolerance”.

There is no illusion: faced with “accumulated debts”, “the recovery will be very slow”.

When “one day” the crowd returns, “it will be stress,” he imagines. “I can’t remember the last time it was full,” he said, pointing to the track, sad without his dancers.


Source: VOA-AFP.


About AFP - Agence France Presse.

AGENCE PRANCE-PRESSE (AFP): is an international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Agence Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency. AFP has regional headquarters in Nicosia, Montevideo, Hong Kong, and Washington, D.C., and news bureaux in 151 countries in 201 locations.

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