Taking stock at the end of the petition
In mid-June, the petition “Restart Gastro – for a mindful restart of the restaurant and catering trade” was concluded after two months. With 28,117 signatures the quorum was missed – but the demands of the petition have been implemented. It is therefore time to take a look back at what has happened for the restaurant and catering industry in Germany since METRO, together with the Wholesale Association Foodservice e.V., launched the petition on 20 April.
At the time of launching the petition, Germany’s restaurant landscape was still in the midst of lockdown. While for other sectors, relaxations had already been agreed upon, the restaurateurs and their efforts to offer their guests a safe visit were being ignored. The weeks of lockdown, the lack of perspective and the view of growing mountains of debt were causing despair. In the petition and the preceding urgent letter to the Federal Government, restaurateurs and partners of the sector joined forces. Together they called for:
A mindful restart of cafés, bars and restaurants on the basis of safety concepts
The effective financial stabilization of the industry by means of a restaurant and catering recovery fund
Sustainable recovery by at least temporarily reducing the VAT rate to 7%Sustainable recovery by at least temporarily reducing the VAT rate to 7%
What happened to the petitions’ demands?
Restart: Only a few weeks after launching the petition the time had come. The Federal Government handed over responsibility for the exit strategy to the federal states. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia were the first to reopen catering establishments. Finally, Bavaria was the last to relax the restrictions at the end of May. Demand number 1 has therefore become reality today. However: Everywhere, requirements have to be met that place a massive burden on profitability. This is why financial aid continues to be of crucial importance.
Gastronomy recovery fund: A special fund exclusively for the gastronomy sector was not made available. However, over the past few weeks, following the initial measures of immediate aid, short-time work compensation and KfW loans, further assistance has been agreed, which will benefit restaurant and catering businesses in particular. The Economic Stimulus and Future Package launched by the German government on 3 June is an important step for restaurateurs. What’s in it?
Interim aid to cover up to 80% of fixed costs – depending on the size of the company and loss of turnover. This measure will be passed by the German Federal Parliament and the Federal Council this week and will enter into force in August.
Further tax aid and incentives by extending the tax loss carry-back as well as by temporarily reintroducing the decreasing balance depreciation for wear and tear for movable assets acquired in 2020 and 2021 – an instrument that also supports equipment offers within the framework of METRO Gourvenience
Extension of the improved regulations for short-time work compensation to 2021
VAT reduction: This demand was first met a few days after the start of the petition – a one-year reduction of the sales tax on meals from 19% to 7% was passed. This measure specific to the catering industry was further reinforced by the fact that as part of the economic stimulus package, a 6-month reduction in the general VAT rate to 5% or 16% respectively was agreed – as can be seen on all price tags in Germany as of yesterday.
From #restartGastro to #cametostay
In the beginning of May, just days before the reopening of the sector, #RestartGastro has united itself with two similar initiatives: #wirsindbereit and #leerestühle – most visibly on a 3 meter large plate positioned in front of the Berlin Reichstag. One joint voice is stronger than three solo fighters. Together, we launched the movie #wirsindgekommenumzubleiben (#cametostay) calling for raising further awareness of the hospitality sector. When the lockdown turned into a restart of the HoReCa sector, we also transformed this brand and launched in May a gastro live chat, where restaurateurs give recommendations to other restaurateurs on how to do business in the framework of ongoing corona challenges: How to offer a nice restaurant experience while complying with safety measures? Will take away and delivery services stay relevant after the restart? How to benefit from offered state aid? These are just some examples of the topics discussed. We started with three chats per week, now we offer the gastro live chat twice a month. More information can be found on wirsindgekommenumzubleiben.de.
In short: Much has been achieved for the restaurant and catering industry in recent months. It is also clear that the HoReCa sector and the challenges it faces have never been as visible in the political sphere in Germany. #RestartGastro has contributed in many ways to this development. “The gastronomy sector is of systemic importance!” wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung at the end of May. This is an important step. The visibility of the sector is an opportunity for further positioning the needs of the sector. The sector – from small cafés to event caterers – is diverse. Accordingly, the crisis is affecting restaurateurs in different ways and it will be important to sustain the dialogue and raise awareness among policymakers with regard to the ongoing and specific challenges faced by our customers.