In the middle of the third wave of the coronavirus, the Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso deducts the minutes so that the health situation allows it to lift the restrictions imposed this Monday on the hotel industry and shops, which must close at 9:00 p.m. The internal tension and unease that this limitation of economic activity has caused in a self-defined executive as liberal has resulted in initiatives to try to compensate the sector. In parallel, Vox, whose votes are essential to approve the 2021 Budgets, is pressing for Díaz Ayuso not to extend the time limit, which expires on February 8.
The day in which it was decided to bring forward the closure of the hotel business in Madrid at 9:00 p.m., leaving the restaurateurs without half of their business – dinners -, in addition to advancing the curfew at 22:00, and restricting meetings to a maximum of four people, was one of the most difficult of the coalition government formed by PP and Cs.
“It was a very tough decision,” says a government source about the limitations known last Friday. “We were studying all the measures for a long time, but in a good tone, without arguing,” he continues. “The position of those responsible for Health was firm.”
“They have been decisions made by Public Health, with its own criteria, because it seemed that it was not going to be done,” abounds a second interlocutor. “It had been shuffled, but it seemed that it was closer to not being done,” he insists. “The data were quite bad, and in a critical situation the opinion of Public Health must prevail over politics.”
With the third wave of the coronavirus drowning the region, and the contagions soared, the sanitary criterion prevailed over the ideological one. The result, however, has been indigestible for the Executive, who since then has filled his agenda with gestures towards the sector.
Everything can be summed up yesterday in a room at the Malacatín restaurant, which was founded in 1895. This empire of stew continued to function during the Civil War. Also, on days of general strike. The covid, however, has affected him. And the internal conflict that the new restrictions have unleashed in a government that claims to guarantee economic activity and private initiative in times of pandemic led Ignacio Aguado to that restaurant yesterday. There, the regional vice president not only recalled that the Budget project includes a line of aid of 85 million euros for the hotel industry. He also made an amendment purpose: the restrictions will be lifted as quickly as possible, he said.
“From now on, the measures to be adopted will be to make it more flexible and not to continue restricting it,” he advanced. “We promise that as soon as we can, as soon as the Ministry of Health gives us authorization, we will lift all restrictions so that you can operate without further trouble,” he said. “This is where we are. In lifting the restrictions and in which you can function ”.
It was not a casual statement. Since March 2020, when the pandemic broke out in Spain, Madrid has wanted to be an island in the ocean of widespread closures. That strategy has not only pitted him against the central government. It has placed him under the international spotlight: “The miracle of Madrid”, Die Welt came to the head in mid-November, when the disease coexisted with open bars and restaurants.
But those times are past. The miracle has passed to the nightmare. The terrible blow of the third wave, which already leaves 4,256 people hospitalized by covid, 700 of them fighting for their lives in intensive care units, forced the Diaz Ayuso Executive to reformulate his strategy last Friday. When the new restrictions came into force on Monday, the president acknowledged that it caused “pain.” And only three days later, yesterday, he advanced his intention to rectify those measures as soon as possible. The contradiction between what has been said during all these months and what has been done now is too strong.
“We try to minimize the damage of the epidemic with massive tests, a new public hospital and launching new economic measures,” said the president of the Community in the plenary session of the Assembly. “Among those measures, obviously, is not precisely that of closing the hotel trade, the restaurant industry and the activity before, that evidently helps little, but the British strain has changed the rules of the game,” he lamented. “Next week we will have meetings with the hotel industry, merchants and other sectors to together lead the recovery of those two hours lost, and that the closures and massive layoffs in Madrid pass soon”.
“The idea is that as soon as it is possible to recover those hours,” added a source that has the confidence of the president, who seeks to guarantee strict compliance with the security measures in the establishments.
The Hostelería Madrid management association estimates that the restrictions represent a 40% cut in hospitality activity and daily losses of 7.2 million euros. And for the president of the Madrid Business Confederation (CEIM), Miguel Garrido, time restrictions “hinder the viability and profitability of many companies, especially small ones and the self-employed,” so they should be accompanied by compensatory measures.
The regional government, made up of two parties that define themselves as liberal, promises aid. And Vox, the formation with which they must negotiate to carry out key Budgets for the future of the region, pressures to do that and more: accelerate the lifting of restrictions. The far-right party is flagging the issue. So much so that Monasterio does more than just put it on the table for budget negotiation: it wants the dialogue on the accounts to start in a restaurant after 9:00 p.m.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.