Owners of restaurants, cages and bars placed 200 empty chairs were placed at Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament on Wednesday afternoon to protest the financial consequences of the measures imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The silent protest aimed to raise awareness of the problems the sector that gives work to over 40,000 people is suffering from the consequences of the pandemic and the long lasting lockdown.
Inspired by a similar protest action by the German catering sector in Berlin, the symbolic action in Greece was organized by the Federation of Restaurants and similar Professions POESE, an umbrella for over 30 associations in the catering industry.
Asking for state support, catering professionals want to be allowed to open again earlier than scheduled June 1 and a series of measures like reduction of Value Added Tax, to help them make it through the crisis.
Asking for sustainable solutions the sector is strongly dissatisfied with the government and the lack of measures for the catering industry.
Among their demands is 100% rent subsidy, VAT reduction to 6% from 24% currently, a 50% reduction in municipality fees, reduction in social contributions until the end of 2020 and even longer.
Local unions joined the protest also in another 50 towns and cities across the country.
Lamia, Central Greece
More than 1,000 empty chairs in the main square of Patras, west Peloponnese.
In Thessaloniki, the second biggest city in Greece, protesters put the pictures of politicians on some chairs and noted “the rest remain empty.”
Even if they open again, restaurants, cafes and bars will not be able to operate again with 100% of their capacity due to social distancing measures.
A much shorter tourism season with much less visitors is expected to hit the sector even harder.