Covid-19: Bulgarian restaurateurs seek easing of rules for opening

Owners of restaurants with outdoor spaces and gardens in Sofia and other cities are preparing to open their doors, but some are not satisfied with the rules announced by Health Minister Kiril Ananiev, including on physical spacing, reports on May 4 said.

Bulgarian National Television said some of the establishments on Vitosha Boulevard had already adapted their summer gardens to the new requirements. However, the owners were complaining that seating for clients was significantly reduced.

Emil Peev, manager of one establishment, said that while before the garden could seat 100 people, it would now seat 25.

“And this capacity will not in any way cover the costs that have to be paid for opening an establishment,” he said.

Radio Plovdiv reported Enyo Enev, head of the Trakiya Association of Hoteliers and Restaurateurs, as saying that the measures imposed the government would not meet the expectations of restaurateurs.

The requirement that tables in open garden areas of restaurants must be 2.5 metres apart automatically halved the capacity of the establishments, he said.

Separately, media reports quoted Plovdiv regional governor Dani Kanazireva as saying that it was not clear if restaurants with open air spaces would be able to open immediately or first undergo a regional health inspectorate check.

It is understood that the rule will be that the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency will monitor kitchens for compliance with the requirements, while the regional health inspectorates will monitor the distance between tables.

The Bulgarian Food Safety Agency is expected to announce by May 5 whether establishments will have to meet requirements in addition to those announced on Sunday afternoon by Ananiev.

Reports from Plovdiv on the morning of May 4 said that some coffee shops in the Kapana creative district had already opened their doors.

Radio Varna said that establishments in the Black Sea city were most worried by the greatly reduced capacity to serve customers. They would not be able to generate profits or might even operate at a loss, the May 4 report said.

The report quoted restaurateur Zhelyazko Karakashev as saying that his colleagues in the restaurant association had told him that two-thirds of the establishments would not open because they could not make a profit.

Restaurateurs want value-added tax cut by up to five per cent during the crisis and nine per cent thereafter.

The report said that owners of establishments considered the 60:40 measure – – by which the state picks up 60 per cent of payroll costs of firms in certain sectors deemed to be affected by the coronavirus crisis, while the employer must pay the remaining 40 per cent – was inadequate for their business.

(Archive photo of a restaurant on Kamchiya beach south of Varna: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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