Restaurateurs in France fear no January reopening

Government sources have suggested that the reopening of restaurant and cafes will not happen on January 20 as previously announced

5 January 2021
A fairly empty restaurant in Paris. Restaurants in France ‘will not open’ as planned in JanuaryRestaurants are unlikely to reopen on January 20, despite this being previously announced by President Macron
By Hannah Thompson

Doubts are emerging over whether restaurants, bars, and cafes in France will reopen as planned causing owners to become increasingly desperate.

They had been set to reopen on January 20, when it was hoped that the Covid-19 epidemic might be more under control.

Read more: Restaurants in France wait for January reopening

But, as the number of daily cases continues to be higher than government aims, and curfews remain in place across the country, the reopening of establishments is now in doubt - especially as health experts have predicted that Christmas and New Year celebrations could also cause an imminent spike in the virus spread.

The most recent figures from health body Santé publique France show that there were 4,022 new cases confirmed in the past 24 hours, and 380 new deaths.

Radio channel RTL this week reported that “according to our information” and “several government sources”, the government has already made the decision to postpone the reopening date.

It said that the sources had “confirmed” that the reopening “will not be January 20”, suggesting that Prime Minister Jean Castex had already made the decision.

It added that the news was expected to be announced via press conference in the next few days.

One restaurant manager, Fabrice Bonnot from Lyon, told FranceInfo he was dismayed at the suggestions of a postponed reopening, and fearful that the €10,000 per month aid he is receiving from the government may stop the longer that restaurants stay closed.

Mr Bonnot said: “We are making 10-15% of our usual business during this time of year. If the [financial] aid stops, how will we pay our bills? The owner doesn’t want to know. Also, the rent that I pay maybe helps him to pay for his bills and charges, too.”

He added that he is doubtful that restaurants will be permitted to open at all in January.

To date the government has said that it will extend financial aid to businesses for as long as the closure continues.

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