Many Larnaca shopkeepers are “financially devastated” because of government measures against the coronavirus, the Larnaca-Famagusta branch of the small shopkeepers’ union (Povek) said on Monday.
Branch president Kyriacos Ambizas painted a grim picture, saying it was unfair to close small shops while allowing others to operate as normal.
“We need a clearer picture of what is going to happen with the pandemic and if, when and under which conditions shops will be allowed to reopen,” he said.
“Many are desperate, and everyone is putting all hope in the coming year. Shopkeepers cannot keep an unprofitable business on life support, especially after seeing things get from bad to worse during the second lockdown.”
He said that there had been no developments in terms of suspending leases and mortgage payments, describing it as “a measure that is more necessary now than it was the first time around”.
The Povek president wondered how shopkeepers and landlords will be able to pay their taxes or repay mortgages if their shops remain closed.
“Sadly, with no turnover, it no longer seems viable for small and medium-sized businesses to keep supporting one, or even two families as they did before.”
He also referred to a portion of shopkeepers who exploit their employees by paying them the government-subsidised 60 per cent of their salary but shortened their working hours.
“As a result, employees do not work full time and miss the remaining 40 per cent they are entitled to, ending up with half the pay. This practice has been adopted by many large businesses, leaving smaller businesses unable to compete.”
There are several shops, particularly those not centrally located, that, “unable to meet their obligations, support their families or pay suppliers, and having had no support or help,” have been forced to close down.
Ambizas added that more are expected to follow suit, blaming government measures for not being “more specific and rational”.