Restaurants and cafés have been allowed to reopen under strict sanitary measures for two weeks now.

Business owners in Luxembourg City complain that the reopening is not going well for them. Only a fraction of former customers have returned so far, either because they are afraid of going out or still working from home. If this continues, some businesses may have to close down.

One restaurant in Clausen had almost zero customers during lunch hour on Friday. The owner stated that the restaurant served about 15 customers on average since its reopening, two thirds less than usual. The bar on the ground floor is not doing any better. Since businesses also have to close at midnight, they lose out on the most profitable hours on the weekends. Turnover is only a quarter of that in the same period last year.

Jean-Claude Colbach, partner of a horeca group, explains: "We have the current rent, the rent from during lockdown, the employer's salary contributions, and running costs. It’s simply not doable."

A restaurant in upper Luxembourg City is experiencing similar problems. Renzo Ballanima stated that at least some people would come sit on the terrace if the weather is nice. He is currently relying on his savings, but they will not keep him afloat for much longer.

"It’s very apparent that if the situation does not change over the next weeks or months, it will be very difficult. The risk is there. I am not the only one. I know about ten people who either already had to close down, never reopened, or will never reopen again."

The horeca sector stated that business owners have mixed feelings about the reopening. Businesses in Luxembourg City are especially suffering from employees working from home.

The general secretary of Horesca, François Koepp, stated:

"I hope that in August, when the first people will return to their offices, or at least in September, we will have a normal reopening. It’s different in the countryside, there we notice that a lot of businesses are actually reporting that they are doing quite well, and that their customers had returned. But it’s a different clientele than in the capital."

He also stressed that it was a good sign that it 10 people were now allowed to sit at the same table. But one cannot deny that more businesses are currently for sale than usual. Selling an establishment also poses its risk at the moment, however.

Jean-Claude Colbach pointed out that current state aids are not sufficient for businesses to survive. Further efforts need to be made when it comes to employer’s contributions, which businesses still need to pay despite the lockdown, and a solution has to be found which would allow for rent to be staggered.

He also called for people to visit restaurants and cafés again: "Don’t let us die."