Coronavirus in France: Paris devastated by closing bars as restaurants try to survive

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Thus began the restrictions in the French capital, in full high alert for the next 15 days due to the lack of control of the virus.

Stella, in the very bourgeois 16th district of Paris, It is one of the symbolic brasseries of the French capital. With its red curtains, its Normandy oysters and that clientele of elegant ladies, notaries, lucky retirees and diplomats from the surrounding area, it is open but not like before. A long line of diners hoped to be able to sign a notebook, where they had to leave their name, cell phone and email, in case they appeared infected and the restaurant had to rebuild the social chain of the virus.

“But I’m a regular!”one complained. The Maitre d responded politely: “We know, sir. But this is different. It is not a customer problem. Blame it on the coronavirus. You must fill out the contact form ”.

Inside, the mandatory space of one meter between table and table, each table limited to six people, mandatory reservation, and a more limited menu, according to the “new normal” and a narrow economy. Customers greeted each other as if they were Buddhists and the gel was on every table.

“InshAllah, we are still open! At least for now “thanked a veteran Stella waiter while recommending the traditional “Tartare” of raw meat and Argentine entrecote.

Next to it, the historic restaurant Le Petit Victor Hugo he was not so lucky: closed tight “for work.” Stella was only competing with McDonald’s and the bakery down the block. Everything else closed.

Thus began in Paris, in full “maximum alert” for the next 15 days before the lack of control of the virus, this new series of restrictions, which They have left it without open bars, without gyms, without party halls, without meetings of more than 10 people. The only exception are restaurants, open with a strict sanitary protocol. The product of a strong lobby by France’s great chefs, who warned the government of “mass bankruptcies across the industry” if they shut them down.

The bars complain about “An intolerable excess of caution”, when the objective of its closure is young people, who meet up late and consume alcohol, which has also been prohibited from carrying. They were the ones who mostly unleashed this new post-holiday wave of the virus due to a lack of precautions and “barrier gestures”. Along with gyms, other fitness and yoga rooms believe that many will not be able to reopen.

The chairs stacked on top of each other the empty tables, the lights out. It is the new and sad Parisian landscape in the cafes of each neighborhood. None without a restaurant kitchen can stay open.

“We claim that the bars They can apply the same protocol as restaurants and also serve their customers. With good distance and payment at the table, we can remain open ”, asks Roland Héguy, from Umih, who groups them together. “There should be no difference between liquids and solids,” he implores.

Other restless sectors are the catering industry, traiteurs, and hotels. Half of the hotels in Paris remain closed because the tourists have disappeared.

“The cancellation of all events by the prefect of Paris will bring the traiteurs and the hotels to their knees. Possibly 70 percent close ”, alerts Didier Chenet, who brings them together.

Stained glass windows with “For Rent” posters follow one another. Many shops they have lowered the curtain forever on boulevard St Germain, on rue de Rennes, the very touristy streets of Paris. A scene repeated around the place de la Victoire, in Les Halles, in the Bastille, in the rue de Rivoli, in the Marais.

Gyms are going to pay a heavy tribute. They claim to have stricter protocols than restaurants, but the prefect of the Paris police ordered its closure.

“Thanks to our protocols, they are able to search for all contacts in case of Covid suspicions among our members. Playing sports helps increase immunity, ”says Arthur Benzaquen, president of the Ken Group, which has 21 gym rooms in its Club Med Gym.

Another problem for gyms is that members are deleted because they have lost their jobs, are patients at risk or are afraid of catching perspiration drops in the room. This trend has already closed 400 gyms across the country, 10 percent of which exist in all of France.

Another problem that this closure generates is the inability to pay the rent for the premises. They ask that landlords be given a tax credit so they can agree to a suspension of rent for the duration of their business closing.

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