Prague A week ago, the pubs hoped that the state would allow them to extend the closing time from 10 pm by at least an hour. After Friday’s radical tightening of the regime throughout the Czech Republic, the opposite is true. The venues must be without guests starting at eight o’clock in the evening, the wifi will be switched off all day, and the biggest problem is fear and the related significant decline in the already declining number of guests.
Some pubs are considering ending their business right now due to months of declining sales and outstanding liabilities, while others have already ended in recent days. Entrepreneurs in gastronomy believe that the collapse of many of them can be prevented primarily by a quick one-time financial injection from the state.
And then a temporary waiver of levies and taxes, or an extension of the Antivirus program, which is to end on the last day of October. A future remediation of losses would also help if the state economy temporarily reduced the VAT rate from today’s 15 and 10 to 5 percent for the next year.
According to Luboš Kastner, who leads the My Restaurants section in the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Self-Employed Persons and is also the co-owner of several restaurants in Pilsen and Prague, it is time. Every day of delay, the losses deepen.
Fear drives people out of the bar
Hospodští claims that shortening the closing time to eight o’clock in the evening represents for many of them the loss of half of their daily sales. Concerns about the infection empty the locals even during the day.
“People are already disappearing from pubs. During the partial recovery in the summer, the companies did not manage to recover from the spring closure, and the current measures are already weighing heavily on all those who managed to survive the first wave of covid. They have nothing to take from. Therefore, liquidity assistance is essential and comes first. Some one-time financial assistance for the nearest survival, “Kastner thinks about the situation. A week ago, the Hospodská group, in which it is a co-owner, showed a year-on-year decrease of 30 percent, now roughly double.
Last year, the entire field of gastronomy earned 195 billion crowns, this year, for the period from January to August, total sales fell by 28 percent compared to the same period last year. In September, most pubs calculated their year-on-year losses by half. But in April, for example, they barely reached one percent of last year’s level. In March and May, six percent.
Vinograf is also on the stove
Even the very prosperous Prague company Vinograf, co-owner Jan Horešovský, is counting on large losses until the spring, operating two wine bars in Prague with the help of twenty employees, which have been awarded professional prizes. The closure of one of them – in the Lesser Town – is about to fall.
“During the spring, we survived from stocks, but then there were liabilities from unpaid invoices. The drop in guests and sales is dragging us down, ”says Horešovský. At the moment, he sees the rescue only in quick financial aid, a kind of one-time subsidy from the state.
But it also considers it important for the state to suspend compulsory social security and health insurance contributions for a while. “I understand the need for the current measure against covid, but if the government does not help very quickly and effectively, it will mean an early collapse of the entire industry,” says the businessman.
Help good. But only for someone
As such, gastronomy did not receive in connection with the first wave of targeted help, as was the case with hotels, spas or what the state is preparing for bus tour operators.
Some programs could be used by gastronomic entrepreneurs to at least partially compensate for losses. However, this field is not operated by large companies with a large clerical apparatus for handling applications. And many innkeepers did not even come to the rescue. For example, due to the debt incurred on mandatory contributions.
“I tried my best, but to this day I have not received a crown from the state,” confides them Lubo Mikuš, whose famous bar Atelier Red & Wine in Malá Strana in Prague was included in the prestigious Michelin guide five years ago.