The Collective Resto Bar Bruxelles takes to the streets on 5 February in groups spread around the city in a bid for survival. The protest will occur not just in Brussels but in 30 places around Wallonia.
The common message is: “Help us or we will die,” says Cedric Jamar, who runs Agalmalt, and is the coordinator of the Brussels based organisation, which is affiliated with Collectif Wallonie Horeca, formed to petition government for more support for this sector.
The group represents a “few hundred” members who feel that the plight of smaller bars and restaurants are not being heard by politicians.
Bars and restaurants are already closing down almost one year since the first lockdown in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s already happening,” said Jamar about the closure and near-closure of some of the city’s venues that we all know and love. Many have held on selling take-away food and speciality beers.
Others are trying to crowd fund or are selling some of the stock from their craft beer collections. The craft beer bars are in a better position to do so compared to the regular bars.
Collective Resto Bar Bruxelles’ protests have been peaceful and have been following the lockdown rules by assembling in small groups spread across the city.
The group held a protest on 15 January, seeking more compensation from the government and a means of reducing their ongoing costs for rent, taxes and social charges. But the best case scenario for them would be to reopen to customers again in a limited way.
Many spent money on partitions and other measure to keep their customers safe. They feel that they can do this again.
They have met with politicians, but felt they have not been heard. Facing fees, landlords, taxes, and royalties many more will close down if they are not helped or allowed to open.