Covid-19: Swiss caterers plan nationwide vote for more money

The empty terrace of a restaurant in Geneva in February Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

Gastrosuisse, the umbrella organisation for the Swiss catering industry, says it wants to launch a popular initiative called “Fair compensation in the event of a pandemic”.

This content was published on March 29, 2021 - 12:06

Swiss politics and legislation were not sufficiently prepared for the emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Gastrosuisse said at a press conference on Monday.

The authorities had a basis in the Epidemics Act for taking strict measures to protect public health, it admitted. “But there is no entitlement to compensation for the affected businesses and employees.”

As a result, these companies and employees have been compensated inadequately and much too slowly, the organisation said, adding that hundreds of thousands of people felt abandoned.

“It seems self-evident and morally justifiable that the industries that have made enormous sacrifices in this crisis should be adequately compensated,” said Casimir Platzer, president of GastroSuisse.

In January Gastrosuise warned that half of all Swiss hotels and restaurants would go bust by the end of March if they did not receive immediate financial compensation for the effects of coronavirus restrictions.

Not enough money

Restaurants and bars in Switzerland were shut for much of 2020 and have been closed since December 22, although they can offer take-away food.

Gastrosuisse said money had been promised in the context of the hardship laws – it said the government had talked about CHF10 billion ($10.7 billion) – but only part of it had reached institutions that had been badly hit.

In other words, the organisation explained, financial compensation was being paid out too slowly and varied greatly from canton to canton.

“What’s more, the amounts promised barely cover half the fixed costs on average,” Platzer complained.

He said the aim of the initiative was clear: “We must not make the same mistakes again. In the event of a new pandemic there must be adequate compensation if establishments were to be closed by the authorities.”

Gastrosuisse must now collect 100,000 valid signatures in favour of the initiative within 18 months.

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