The Generalitat Valenciana has announced the new restrictions to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and that, in principle, will be in force for the next 14 days. They come into force this Thursday at 00:00 hours.
The shop closes at 6pm
Shops get their first snip in the schedule
The closure of the shop at 6 p.m. is the first measure taken by the Council specifically aimed at reducing the opening hours of the establishments. However, the curfew at 10 p.m. already meant a reorganisation of the department stores that were lowering their blinds at that time.
According to small businesses, this measure is the “tip of the iceberg” for the sector. The employers’ association Confecomerç CV is calling on the government for a direct aid plan to “safeguard” the survival of the business. With regard to the figures of the debacle, personal equipment shops recorded falls in turnover of up to 60%, which makes it unviable, according to Confecomerç, the continuity of 45% of business in the Comunitat Valenciana after the implementation of this measure. On the other hand, Joaquín Cerveró, spokesperson for Anged – which represents firms such as Corte Inglés and Carrefour – assures that they are not surprised by the new restrictions. “What we didn’t expect was to go for such a drastic cut in opening hours. We thought it would be at eight in the evening, not six. Let’s hope that the curve improves and we can gradually return to normal,” he says.
Meanwhile, SMEs fear the economic damage from the temporary bite in the afternoon. “Sixty percent of the business is in this part of the day,” says Amparo Mata, a salesperson in a mattress and bedroom goods store on Juan Llorens Street. Anticipating the evening closure will necessarily bring “more losses and more in a time of sales, because it is in the afternoon when many customers come who have finished their work day or have picked up the children from school. This, he agrees, “is a real hell for the self-employed”.
Tomás López, head of the jewellery store López de Juan Llorens, has already made a decision. “It’s not worth opening so soon in the afternoon. We will only open in the morning and that’s it”. In view of the new measure, he predicts business losses of 20%. “We suffer an abandonment of small businesses by the authorities”, he denounces.
A single cohabitation group with no exceptions
The measure that will most affect families in the coming days will undoubtedly be the limit of people who can be brought together under one roof. During yesterday’s press conference, the President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, recalled, after listing the list of businesses and facilities that will be required to pull the shutters, that the remaining restrictions in force, “such as the maximum number of six people in the meetings, continue to apply until January 31, as planned. This was highlighted verbatim in the press release issued after the meeting of the Interdepartmental Bureau for Prevention and Action before Covid-19 on the agreement of new general restrictive measures.
However, hours later the vice president of the Council, Monica Oltra, said on their social networks that the Interdepartmental Board “has agreed to limit meetings to groups of cohabitants, with exceptions for upbringing or care, people living alone and couples not living together. In other words, the limit would be limited to groups of cohabitants, with the exception of these exceptions.
Oltra said in her Twitter response that the section “will be regulated by Presidential Decree once it is known whether night-time confinement can also be advanced. We will have to wait for that final resolution to clarify it.
Total closure of the hotel and catering industry
The hotel industry confesses to being “sunk” and predicts the closure of half of the companies
The sector is “morally bankrupt and financially exhausted”. The announcement by the president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, to close the hotel and catering industry, which will only be able to offer takeaway or home-delivery meals, made the restaurant owners very angry. Exempt from the closure are hospital cafeterias, school canteens or kitchens located in service areas or workplaces, as well as hotel restaurants. These premises may only serve professionals, persons accompanying sick persons, pupils, workers or guests.
The president of the Hotel and Tourism Business Confederation of the Valencian Community and of the Valencia Hotel and Catering Federation, Manuel Espinar, strongly criticised the closure. He argued that two out of every ten companies will close to avoid reopening, which will raise to half the total number of bars, cafes and restaurants that will not open when the pandemic passes.
Espinar criticized that they have been a “bargaining chip” and sent a message to the Botànic: “Congratulations to the politicians who wanted to close us down. Tomorrow there will be more families ruined, but Botànic will be more united than ever”. The president of the federation lamented that with the closure “the contagion in the houses will continue to occur” and indicated that if the Christmas meetings had been held in hotels “now we would not be like this”. He gave as an example what is happening in the 29 municipalities where the hotel industry has been closed for a month, without this having reduced the number of infections.
“Perishable material goes in the trash. You can’t make this decision 24 hours in advance,” criticized Espinar. The also president of Conhostur regretted that the “unilateral decision” comes “at the most complicated financial moment, without criteria for the distribution of aid”. “Besides, this month we have to pay taxes tomorrow and on the 31st. Will President Puig tell me how we are going to do it,” said Espinar. In December, more than 20,000 jobs were destroyed in the sector and 30% of companies closed. Espinar asked the administrations to cover “the fixed costs because in this way they are driving us to ruin, they are criminalizing us and pushing us to a business suicide.
Same opinion in the Coordinadora Empresarial del Ocio y la Hostelería de la Comunidad Valenciana. Lalo Díez, its president, called the announcement “difficult to digest for the sector, which is once again the one to which the greatest sacrifice is demanded. Measures must be taken, but they must involve shutting down all non-essential commercial economic activity”. Otherwise, “it is a drastic, arbitrary and unfair measure that focuses the problem on the hotel and catering industry”.
The decision “shows that crisis management is getting out of hand”. He criticized the fact that the political class continues to “beat around the bush” by punishing, once again, bars, restaurants, cafeterias and entertainment venues to gain time. And all “with a very high bill. So we will not get out of the health problem or the economic one,” said Diez.
Anger in the street
You can feel the anger in the street. Domingo Peláez, in charge of the cafeteria and restaurant Lorque, of Pío XII made this reflection: “To agonize, as we are now, I almost prefer to close all the time for the period that is necessary and reopen already in better conditions”. And now, he adds, “hardly anyone comes to eat, we are with only one employee compared to other times when there were five and business has fallen by 40% due to the pandemic”.
Miguel Caño explodes at the Tavern Art of Pius XII. More than an owner or manager of the premises, he defines himself as “a wretch, like all freelancers, at the mercy of some gentlemen who do not know where they are going and decide how they want to go”. And he asks himself: “Why do they give aid to the sector in Germany and not here?
The sadness can be felt in the tearful eyes of Monica Fajardo, in the Latin food bar El Paisá by Fernando El Católico. “More weeks come with zero income.” Faced with such a panorama, there is an urgent need for “direct aid or exemption from payment”. “Just for dignity,” she confesses, “I don’t go out right now, I sit on the sidewalk and start crying.
The senior colleges reduce the capacity to 30% and visits are forbidden
The restrictions also apply to halls of residence and student residences, some of which have seen major outbreaks in recent months, as Councillor Barceló pointed out.
The measures imply that the capacity of the common areas of these facilities is reduced to 30% of the total capacity, including the dining rooms. These centres will be able to provide catering services for meals, despite the general closure of the sector, but will have to organise shifts to avoid crowding and reduce interaction between residents.
Another of the provisions that will come into force tomorrow, Thursday, is that the student residences will not be able to receive visitors from outside, in order to restrict social contacts as much as possible, and the premises will only be able to receive residents.
The vice-president of the Valencia Inter-University Council of Students, Andrea Paricio, considered that if the measures are provided for by the health authority, they should be complied with. She also defended the move to the online format in universities to restrict contagion.
Games of chance
The lockout also affects casinos and gambling halls despite the absence of cases
From the gaming sector, the decision of the Consell was accepted with resignation and with the idea that “it is a situation that nobody is able to dominate, so the regulations must be accepted”. Javier Gutiérrez is the manager of the Cirsa Valencia Casino, one of the most important in the Community, and raised the flag of security to emphasize that “in the 32 weeks that we have been open there has not been a single positive between workers and customers. He recalled that restrictions have gradually reduced its opening hours, initially set at 24 hours a day, and said he would wait to see the details on paper to define how to act from now on.
Only professional groups are allowed to use the premises
The closure of all the sports facilities for the general public and the only permanence of professional sport in closed spaces will cause the problems already announced a few weeks ago by the Association of Sports Centres Entrepreneurs of the Valencian Community to worsen. “The fear of contagion, political restrictions and the lack of economic aid could cause one of every five gyms in Valencia to lower their blinds because of the pandemic. This was stated by the president of the Aevcd and member of the Spanish Federation of the sector, Juan Carlos Gómez-Pantoja, who put figures to the serious crisis that the sector is experiencing.
Gómez-Pantoja said that his sector means saving a lot of money in health “by improving the physical and mental health” of citizens and employs “children under 35 and women, who are very punished.
From the Confederation of Sports Federation of the Community asked for caution and time when making a balance on the decree because, they said, “we have already received many calls” and have specific doubts about the continuity of certain competitions at the national level.
Mayors applaud the lifting of the perimeter lockdown as ineffective
The 29 municipalities that were closed on the perimeter as of January 7 will no longer be closed as of tomorrow. This decision is applauded by many of the mayors concerned as they consider it difficult to implement and ineffective. “It has been proven that it is an inapplicable measure with the existing resources”, they lament from Ontinyent. Along the same lines, Ramón Adsuara, Mayor of Alfafar, states that “it is common sense” this uprising because it was “a comparative offense that the surrounding villages or even Valencia”. With the hotel industry closed, mobility will focus on shops, as many residents asked when they could go to Ikea or hypermarkets.