Restaurant, bar, and nightclub owners staged a protest against the Portuguese government and its crushing Covid restrictions outside the national parliament on Tuesday – the fifth day of their ongoing hunger strike.
The nine business owners claim that anti-coronavirus restrictions brought in by the government have crippled the hospitality industry, while the state has failed to support those most impacted by the measures.
The demonstrators, who are camped outside the Palácio de São Bento, the home of Portugal’s parliament, say they will not eat until they are met by the prime minister and the economy minister.
The protesters have been surviving off water, tea, and coffee donated by their supporters.
“How can we sustain a company that isn’t earning any money but has to pay taxes, pay for light, water?” asked Jose Gouveia, a nightclub owner and spokesman for the movement known as A Pão e Água (Bread and Water).
Restaurant owner João Sotto Mayor said, “It’s just insolvencies, insolvencies,” adding that “many businesses depend on this time [of the year] … It’s incredibly important that next weekend we return to normal opening hours.”
While bars and nightclubs have been permanently closed since March, restaurants were allowed to reopen in May. However, a new curfew and weekend lockdown, which came into effect on November 8 has angered restaurateurs, with many worried their businesses won’t be able to survive until the end of the pandemic.
The Portuguese authorities registered 2,401 new Covid infections and 72 deaths on Tuesday, as the second wave slows across the nation.
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