17 october 2020
‘We obtain legal information to determine whether the general closure of cafés and restaurants is proportional,’ says Matthias De Caluwe, top executive of the sector association. ‘We owe that to our entrepreneurs.’
Following the example of the Walloon catering federation, Horeca Vlaanderen is also considering legal action. ‘We gather information from our lawyers to determine whether the general closure of restaurants and cafés is proportional. We owe that to our entrepreneurs. Public health is crucial, there is no discussion about that. But measures must be proportional, ‘says CEO Matthias De Caluwe.
Angelo Rosseel of two-star restaurant La Durée in Izegem is also considering legal action. “I’m going to do everything I can to mobilize as many colleagues as possible,” the chef tells Het Laatste Nieuws.
According to De Caluwe, the closure feels ‘unfair’, because no data is available that can attribute the rising corona figures to the cafés and restaurants. In addition, the catering industry did everything to respect the strict rules around mouth masks and distance between the tables, he says.
Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (sp.a) emphasizes that there are indeed reasons to close the catering industry. ‘Unfortunately it is quite simple: we have to reduce our contacts, because the virus lives on that. We allow it where it is necessary for people to come together, such as at school, but where it is not necessary we have to get those contacts down. ‘
De Caluwe emphasizes that any legal steps are separate from the ongoing negotiations on support measures with the various governments, ‘which are going well’. ‘Above all, we want to ensure that all support applies to the entire catering establishment, so not only for hotels, restaurants and cafes, but also for banqueting halls, caterers, discotheques and snack bars,’ says De Caluwe. ‘Everything should apply to everyone because everyone deserves a fair chance to get through this. We really stick to that. ‘
It has already been established: the bridging right will be doubled for those who are obliged to close the doors, a waiver of social security contributions for a certain period and the government will ensure that employers can pay their staff an end-of-year bonus.
Whether the restaurants and cafes should prepare for a longer closure that also bridges the holidays, the minister did not want to say. ‘We must now try to behave so well and to be so careful that we don’t have to keep this up too long. We are reviewing the close in two weeks, let’s hope we get the numbers down and that we can ease back at some point. But I can’t make any promises. ‘