"So that we can finally get back to work"

By Sarah RaparoliMisch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

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They got creative, adapted and implemented prescribed hygiene concepts. In the end, nothing helped, because restaurateurs in Luxembourg are still not allowed to receive guests. In view of the extension of the measures, the voices of those affected are getting louder and louder; despair and resentment are high. The Lëtzebuerger Journal asked four restaurateurs to express their view of the situation in front of the camera.

It has become something of a tradition: for the fourth time, restaurateurs, restaurant and café owners, bar and nightclub operators have gathered in Luxembourg City last Saturday to vent their frustration. Every time the government holds a press conference, people hope for the long-awaited return of the pre-Corona routine. But even at the latest Bettel-Lenert appearance, hope was thwarted: the restrictions will change on 21 February at the earliest. Some fear that the date of the reopening will be pushed back yet another time. This lack of perspective has been going on for months.

On 15 March 2020, the decision was made to close the restaurant business. Take-out, drive-in and delivery services were still allowed to operate, but life in Luxembourg and across the globe came to a standstill. "Bleift Doheem" dominated as a ubiquitous maxim. On 15 April, the first loosening of the measures was announced. The HORECA sector was excluded and had to hold out until 27 May. Then, it was only allowed to open if the regulations were fulfilled. These included a prescribed distance of 1.5 metres between each table with a limited number of guests, regular cleaning of surfaces and a mask requirement when in motion.

During the summer, the terraces were filled, the mood was good and there was a feeling that the worst was over. However, the number of infections increased again and the gastronomic sector was one of the first to feel the impact. On 23 October, it was no longer allowed to share a table with ten people, but only four. Then there was the curfew, which forced customers to go home early. Less than a month later, it was time to close again – to this day, nothing has changed. Some can still keep their heads above water with deliveries and take-aways, others with state subsidies.

But this is not the case for everyone. According to their own statements in various interviews or on social media, some restaurateurs fear for their existence. If the measures are prolonged again, some would be faced with final ruin. The Lëtzebuerger Journal asked restaurateurs from the north, east, centre and south to tell us how it feels to be restricted in their profession, how they have experienced the last few months, what hurdles had to be overcome and how they feel about the future.

Being able to work again

The Lëtzebuerger Journal has given the following people the opportunity to share their views:

Roy Beugels from the Brasserie du Vieux Moulin "Am Keller", representing the North, Rita Stoque from the Hotel Restaurant "Le Cigalon", representing the East, Fabio Machado from the Café "Am Heim", representing the South, and Dominique Colaianni from Les Espaces Saveurs (i.a. "Sapori" and "La Mirabelle"), representing the Centre.

* in Luxembourgish and French (with French subtitles)