Restaurant Owners Despair Captures Country’s Mood Facing Second Lockdown

Yesterday the Spain’s lower house approved the government’s state of alarm measures which are now in force throughout the country.

The measures include further restrictions to combat the continuing surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

This is the viral photo that has become a story in itself showing two Spanish restaurant owners comforting each other after their business was forced to close a second time due to COVID-19 measures in Spain.

The image of the two business partners, snapped comforting each other on the step outside their restaurant, has come to symbolise the difficulties faced by bars, restaurants, and other small businesses during the pandemic and it has been widely shared on social media.

El Bodegon Azoque, located in the centre of Zaragoza in the northern Spanish region of Aragon, was forced to close for the second time this year on Monday due to new regional restrictions.

The president of the Aragonese regional government Javier Lamban announced new measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus during the current second wave.

These include bars and restaurants having to close if they do not have an outside terrace as consumption is banned inside, while terraces are only allowed 50 percent capacity.

As El Bodegon Azoque does not have a terrace, owners Jose Fontanellas, 41, and Ivan Trasobares have been forced to close the venue’s doors for a second time following the first lockdown imposed in March.

Fontanellas told Newsflash: “Our problem is that we cannot meet the local government’s requirements to remain open as we do not have a terrace and it is banned to serve customers inside.

“We are certain that bars and restaurants are not the problem.”

He added: “We only want them to allow us to work, to remain open.”

Since the photo of the two partners consoling each other outside their restaurant was widely shared online, the pair said they have been contacted by many other business owners in a similar situation.

The restaurant’s clientele was predominantly an exclusive group of bankers, businessmen and politicians working the city centre which means the owners have been unable to introduce takeaway services, like other firms have done to stay afloat during the pandemic.

Fontanellas told Newsflash: “This was our business, closing it means a lot. We have some savings left, but it is running out and we still have to pay for water, gas, electricity, taxes…”

He added that he is very concerned that they have been forced to close a second time and that the authorities can repeat the measure time and again.

When asked about the viral photo, Fontanellas told Newsflash: “It represents what is happening all around, in businesses, in greengrocers, in freelance work, it is the moment of falling apart.”

He added: “We come from modest families and we only want to work.”

The restaurant reopened in June after the first lockdown and used to employ 15 people who are currently laid off.

Before being forced to close again, they had one waiter working with them.

The Aragon authorities have also ordered all bars and restaurants to close at 10 pm which is unpractical for the Spanish lifestyle with families usually dining together at around 9 pm.

Meanwhile, Fontanellas and Trasobares are bravely holding on to the business and hope to remain afloat until they are able to open once again.

According to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University Spain has registered 1,116,738 cases of COVID-19 and 35,298 related deaths.

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