Tribune. France, viscerally attached to its gastronomy, decided in March 2020 to save its restaurants hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic; and this by means of an unprecedented arsenal of public aid.
Initially, some 750 million euros were released to support the sector alongside the general implementation of the partial unemployment scheme.
The measures were then amplified in the spring in various forms: establishment of a solidarity fund, exemption from social contributions, “Covid prevention” subsidy (50% coverage of the investment made to set up barrier measures and physical distancing), loan guaranteed by the State. At the time, the amounts mentioned for the sector were around 18 billion euros, or about half of the defense budget (35.9 billion) and a little less than double the budget for culture and communication (10.8 billion).
Recently, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that reopening bars and restaurants was not possible before “At least mid-February” 2021. At this rate, and in such a climate of uncertainty, one wonders how long restaurant owners will be able to hold out before putting the key under the doormat.
The concerns relate to both their ability to cope with fixed charges; in particular rents (without forgetting insurance) and bank installments. And this, in a particular situation for the restaurants which, let us recall it, for a third of them were already in a situation of great financial fragility at the beginning of the crisis because of the social movements of 2018-2019 (“yellow vests” and pension reform).
As of today, the number of establishment closures does not appear to be abnormally high compared to 2020, according to Infogreffe, on the contrary. In 2019, 6,445 traditional restaurants (4,981 fast food restaurants) filed for deletion from the trade and companies register against 5,587 (4,473 fast food restaurants) in 2020. Overall, the differences between these two years civilians are not statistically significant.
One in six in the United States
Radiation is not yet a major concern, even if the dynamic since October 2020 is clearly on the rise and suggests a darker future. The measures taken by the government, coupled with bank support, have thus made it possible to date to keep afloat a sector which employs nearly 650,000 employees in our country. By comparison, nearly 110,000 restaurants (or one in six) in the United States have been forced to go out of business since the start of the pandemic due to more limited support from of public authorities.
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