Hospitality industry leaders say they are suing the state over losses suffered by businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Daniel Mischie, the chairman of the Owners Organization of Hotels and Restaurants in Romania (HORA) and the head of the Coalition for Romania’s Development said a lawsuit had already been initiated.
Industry leaders want half a billion euros from the government, a sum they want to be paid “immediately” to restaurant and hotel owners.
“We represent 5% of Romania’s Gross Domestic Product…. and we expect damages as soon as possible,” Mr Mischie said on Monday, quoted by News.ro.
He said that on average every business had lost 120,000 euros due to the restrictions imposed during the pandemic, with losses totaling 5 billion euros.
“Every day, entrepreneurs give up their business, so every day counts. We have to mobilize for after the pandemic. Many business owners can’t go on.”
Last week, he said between 70,000 and 100,000 former employees had left the industry and 15,00 businesses had been forced to shut due to restrictions during the pandemic.
Hospitality businesses are most affected by a lack of financial resources and predictability, the representatives said.
Restaurants were closed for three months in November after Covid-19 cases soared and only partially reopened last week after cases subsided. Restaurants are currently allowed to operate at a 30% of their indoor seating capacity.
However, the damage to the industry has already been done, Mr Mischie said, estimating that one-third of businesses would go under without a financial lifeline.
He called for the government to pay “damages to this industry for the restrictions that were imposed. “
He said the government had agreed for businesses to be compensated to cover 20% of their income from 2019, the year before the pandemic.
Dragoş Anastasiu, the chairman of Coalition for Romania’s Development, conceded that some restaurants had disregarded rules and the organizations have distanced themselves from them.
“However, it’s been shown that restaurants that respected the rules didn’t generate Covid-19 outbreaks,” he said.
Many restaurants have been operating only with outdoor seating areas, and have had to invest in heating systems and awnings.
The pair said there had been discussions with authorities but but there challenges putting into practice what had been agreed.
“Dialogue was very intense. Proposals were made, but there are problems implementing them,” Mr Mischie said.
The industry however “is still alive” even if the pandemic had „decimated” it, Mr. Anastasiu said..
He urged the government to consult the hospitality industry before announcing any future restrictions saying the lack of predictability meant “certain death” for businesses.