Nearly one in three of food and drink establishments will not be able to reopen once coronavirus restrictions are lifted, Neophytos Thrasyvoulou, who chairs Osika, the association representing them, told the Cyprus News Agency on Tuesday.

Restaurants and other food and drink establishments have been restricted to providing only take-out and delivery services for several weeks under decrees to contain the spread of Covid-19. Thrasyvoulou said these decrees are threatening to drive many of them out of business.

“Even more problems will be created by the absence of support for businesses as regards suspension of loan installments, given that businesses are in lockdown and have obligations to pay,” he said.

If the sector opens-up on March 16, a number of businesses that rely on tourism will still need support until the start of the tourism season, which it appears will be starting in the second half of the year,” he added.
Thrasyvoulou said Osika wants support for the sector to continue. He suggested the setting up of a support organisation for the catering sector adding that the lower 5 per cent VAT rate should remain force.

He also suggested the deputy ministry back the sector with publicity and with the issue of coupons to generate business among locals.

And he said catering businesses should be given a moratorium as regards social insurance and other labour ministry fees, to be in force until three months after the start of the tourism season.

Operating licences for this year should not be issued since those of last year had been paid, even though businesses were closed. Municipalities should also allow businesses to pay rubbish collection and other fees only for the period for which they are in operation.