Sunday, March 7

The hospitality industry requires the terraces to be reopened 100% and the interior at half capacity


The island of Benidorm reflected in the facade of a restaurant.

The island of Benidorm reflected in the facade of a restaurant.
David Revenga

The hotel industry in the province of Alicante opposes the gradual opening of the sector as of March 1 in a de-escalation that would go through the return to activity only on the terraces, and requires reopen their businesses to 100% abroad and 50% of the capacity in the interior bars, restaurants and entertainment venues. It is the approach that they will take to the next meeting (day 23) of the working table that the Minister of Health, Ana Barceló, constituted the day before yesterday, with the employers of the sector, in which they demand to be represented since various associations of the province have been left out. A part of those affected, summoned by the Leisure and Hospitality Business Coordinator, will hold a sit-in today at the headquarters of the Consell in Alicante.

At that meeting, the start of the de-escalation was advanced from March 1 with the outdoor terraces. The committee of experts that advises the Consell is committed to linking the relaxation phases of the restrictions with the evolution of some indicators, as already established by the Ministry of Health last summer. A protocol that spoke of extreme risk when the cumulative incidence at 14 days exceeded 250 cases. With that reference in mind, the group of advisers of the Generalitat would see with good eyes that when the Community falls below those 250 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, those measures that imply a lower risk of transmission will begin to relax and consider that bars and restaurants the terraces could then reopen. They also understand that in this scenario the perimeter closures of large cities and the precinct of parks could be lifted.

The epidemiologist Jose Maria Lopez Lozano considers, however, that faced with the threat of the English strain, one must be more conservative than usual. «The first thing would be to know if it is a majority or if it is increasing. In this case, I would advocate allowing the use of the terraces, ensuring the distance and that people always wear masks, based on a cumulative incidence at 14 days of about 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The use of the interior would limit it to incidents of less than 100 with half the capacity. The important thing is that each person is one and a half meters from other people and wear the mask except as much as you eat or drink ».

Juan Francisco Navarro, president of the Valencian Society of Preventive Medicine and Public Health and doctor of the General Hospital of Elche, thinks that it is better that we are as close as possible to a rate of 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants to reopen. «Greater decreases in incidence are difficult to achieve and it would take a long time to achieve, but with that rate, and close monitoring, we understand that the hotel business could be opened. Even between 100 and 200 incident cases would allow partial openings and only with minimal risk situations. Of course opening of terraces, that the good weather is coming, but indoors it should be not only restricted but prohibited by everything we have seen ». Along the same lines, the Professor of Public Health at the Miguel de Elche University, Ildefonso Hernandez, also a spokesperson for the Spanish Society of Public Health, points out that “of course the opening cannot be extended to interiors yet. For this we have to wait for something more and for the trend to consolidate ».

Returning to the work table created by the Council and the employers of the hospitality sector, the Business Federation of Hospitality of the Province of Alicante (Fehpa) is part of it, integrated into the Business Confederation of Hospitality and Tourism of the Community (Conhostur ). “Although many think that what we are negotiating is the opening of the terraces, it is not like that, we would never negotiate that, another thing is that they impose it on you,” says the president of Fehpa, Mar Valera. This representative insists that they also demand the total opening, with a 100% capacity outside, that is, on the terraces, with a distance between tables of one and a half meters; and 50% indoors, with tables every two meters, and businesses open until curfew. That is what we have asked, another thing is what they want to give us or how they want to de-escalate, which is different. From what we want to what they give us there is an abyss, but we will fight for that. We chain many months of losses and people need to work.

The president of the Alicante Restaurant Association (ARA), César Anca, called “shame” the reopening only with terraces. “We are not satisfied with that, it would be to recognize that our establishments are unsafe. We are not to blame, there is another way of doing things. They would have to look more to the Community of Madrid, where the hospitality sector is not criminalized. Businesses are open and people are going to eat quietly, “he said. He also questioned the representativeness of the table created by the Consell, “at that table there are no people, we cannot feel represented by many. It seems incredible to us that (the bosses) 15 days ago demanded the opening of the establishments without limitations and now they find everything great and wonderful.

Lalo Diez, spokesman for the Coordinator that has called for today’s protest, criticized that “the Consell took 24 hours to close but we are going to collect the aid four months after announcing it. We ask to open from March 1 in conditions that allow the sector to work with sanitary guarantees, enabling spaces on terraces and indoors, with limitations, but that it is profitable to open businesses “.

The president of the Association of Leisure Venues (Alroa), Javier Galdeano, also spoke of “shame and teasing.

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