Hundreds of chef’s whites were laid out in the heart of Brussels as restaurateurs served up a protest over their current predicament.
They were highlighting the plight of eateries, cafes and other parts of the hospitality industry hit during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The hospitality industry represents the third-largest source of jobs in Belgium.
It is calling on the government to make concessions on VAT and make economic support for staff available up to the end of 2020.
“Today with all of the fixed costs, we can’t keep up if we can’t count on state aid,” said Antoine Pinto, the celebrated owner of Belga Queen restaurant. “So we are placing our clothes on the Grande Place, symbolising the loss of the restaurant sector.”
A well-known figure in Belgium, Pinto has is putting his name to the protest to demand answers from the government.
A spokesperson for Belgium’s deputy prime minister told Euronews the government has “already launched a whole package of crisis support measures” and are already looking “into additional support measures for sectors that are hardest hit, such as the hospitality sector.”
Belgium locked down in mid-March. But it began easing restrictions on Monday, with the opening of all shops.
But bars and restaurants will stay closed until at least June.