The party is over on summer nights, but the livelihood of many workers and businessmen who live off nightlife in Spain is also in danger. At the height of the outbreaks of the coronavirus, The Government and the Autonomous Communities agreed on Friday to close nightclubs, dance halls and cocktail bars throughout the national territory, without specific aid for the sector having been established or announced. “The situation was already very complicated, but now drastic measures are taken urgently or we are going to have a serious problem,” warns Ramón Más, president of the National Federation of Leisure and Entertainment Entrepreneurs (Spain by Night), who assures that there is a risk of bankruptcy of “70%” of the companies in this sector.
Ten people per table in bars and one visit per day in residences: guide to the new measures agreed between Health and the communities
Closures and restrictions on nightlife, such as the hour limit in the hospitality industry at 1 in the morning, are being approved little by little by the Autonomous Communities, orders that the employers’ association España de Noche is studying to appeal to the courts. The first complaint from the sector was its “surprise” at the closure decision agreed by Health and the autonomous governments (“without taking us into account at all”), followed by its complaint for the absence of compensation measures given the obligation to take the blind.
The nightlife employers fear “disaster” if the Government and the Autonomous Communities do not take specific support measures that urgently reach the sector, made up of some 25,000 companies and some 200,000 workers, and which has been the first to see the reversal of the “New normal” linked to the coronavirus and to suffer restrictions again to stop the new advance of the epidemic. “The danger of disappearance reaches 70% of companies at the moment,” estimates the head of the employer.
“Who can endure this uncertainty and so many months of closure without income and expenses?”, Underlines Más, who points out that companies have to face part of social contributions for its workers in ERTE and to rent “with zero income, many companies since March”. The Spain Nightlife business association has specifically called for “a 12-month moratorium on the payment of real estate credits related to the activity”, as well as “monthly aid for companies in the nightlife, festivals and shows sector” for deal with “fixed expenses such as rent, electricity or water, among others.”
The employers’ association España de Noche affirms that only “40%” of nightlife companies had returned to activity since it was allowed, after the toughest moments of the pandemic. Given the capacity limitations, the necessary social distance and the impossibility of reopening the dance floors that have existed this summer, some venues could not afford to reopen and others were waiting to see if the situation would stabilize, explains the businessman. “So it will be very difficult to survive, with this uncertainty in the calendar, the ‘now you can open, now not’. We are facing the biggest economic crisis in the sector ”, warns More.
The Government does not announce new aid
The first restrictions of the Government and the Autonomous Communities against outbreaks have focused their measures on nightlife because they place it as one of the main sources of contagion, according to Health, among others, such as family gatherings. At the moment, the Executive has not announced measures to support the sector in consideration. Sources from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism point to elDiario.es that there is no provision for “anything other than what is already approved.” In the Ministry of Labor they refer to the ERTE foreseen for outbreak situations, which were agreed in the last extension of the files, which allow savings of 80% in workers’ Social Security contributions for companies with less than 50 employees and 60% for companies that exceed that template.
In Spain by Night they consider instead that the existing tools are not enough and that this new extraordinary measure on nightclubs should be accompanied by direct aid to nightlife to avoid its collapse, something in which the UGT agrees. “Obviously, we must support the nightclub sector, such as the hospitality sector, which cannot open beyond one o’clock, the tourism sector and those who have restrictions,” says Hilario Pinilla, UGT State Hospitality Manager.
This union official puts the accent on the 200,000 workers linked to nightlife and warns that large establishments can withstand restrictions somewhat better, but “small discos, pubs and places with reduced space have it very difficult.” Pinilla argues that, if you really want to limit nightlife, “you also have to control the bottles, that people do not gather in a park when the terraces close at one o’clock. Because if not, in the end the establishments are being punished , who are the ones who try to put measures and can get to better control the contacts that the meetings in the street “.
The three most representative groups of the self-employed, ATA, UPTA and UATAE, have demanded this Monday that the Government resume the extraordinary benefit for cessation of activity for self-employed workers in this sector, the so-called extraordinary ‘strike’ of the self-employed, which was created in the harshest moments of the pandemic and which was replaced by other support measures designed for businesses with problems in reopening, but not for new closing decrees. The president of ATA, Lorenzo Amor, has also demanded that the quotation of freelancers and workers of all companies and activities affected by the forced closure decreed be suspended “immediately.”
The employers’ association España de Noche has requested an urgent meeting “with the Ministry of Health and the Secretary of State for Tourism”, but for the moment it has not received a response, according to its president. “We hope that the meeting will take place this week, we must take urgent measures because, if we go to September to sit down and talk and we have to wait three more months to collect aid, we will be late,” says More.