Story By: Ernest Bio BogoreSub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency:  Newsflash

French chefs have begged President Emmanuel Macron to reopen saying that many restaurants will be forced to close forever if the lockdown continues.

The appeal came in an op-ed written by 17 unnamed French chefs and published in the Figaro newspaper. The French government has announced that the country’s confinement measures are scheduled to be eased on 11th May but no decision has been made about when the restaurants will reopen, according to local media.

The authors of the op-ed expect that “a decree of a partial end to the isolation of the restaurants will be announced as soon as possible.”

They hope this “will encourage the world of restaurants, from neighbourhood bistros to starred establishments, to follow and develop the new more responsible model that they intend to promote”.

The chefs say: “Mr President of the Republic, the restaurant sector, which yesterday provided more than a million jobs, is now at a standstill.

“Many of us may not be able to get back on our feet if we continue to shut down.”

Reports state that French restaurants closed at the beginning of the lockdown, before reopening for takeaway services some time later but orders are not coming in at the same rate as before.

Restaurant owner Dominique Aiache says: “We have saved some cash, but we are fighting every day. For the business to survive, we would have to make a thousand euros a day. That’s impossible right now.”

On 16th April, France’s Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, called on chefs to make proposals on the conditions of the reopening: “I don’t have the answer for the end of lockdown but the sooner the better. But it will be necessary to restore confidence.

“We’re going to set up a working group to study the conditions for the reopening. And I propose opening a dedicated website for restaurant owners to give us their proposals on health conditions.”

Local media report that chefs are making commitments in response to Bruno Le Maire, including: “A daily meeting of 30 minutes with the staff to recall the different points of practices and behaviours imposed.

“The sending of a video or an email to clients who reserve to remind them of what is in place.

“Informing customers about the origin and price of the products used.

And finally “share, without discrimination, the working time in the restaurant, in other words, introduce a rotation so that each employee can benefit from the same return to work,” in order to reduce the cost of short-time working.

No date has yet been set for the reopening of restaurants.

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