Sunday, 31 January 2021

Zagreb Cafes Protest Opening 1st Feb Cancelled, Fines Too Severe

January 31, 2021 – The planned cafes protest in Zagreb and elsewhere, which was due to see 100 facilities open their doors on Monday 1st February in defiance of the current ban on their operations, has been cancelled. Huge fines and the threat of prison are the reason for the climb down. Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric appealed to caterers for patience.

The proposed Zagreb cafes protest organised for Monday 1st February has been cancelled. The protest was due to see some catering facilities and gyms open their doors to the public in defiance of the current nationwide ban on operations in such facilities. Around 100 businesses were said to be joining the Zagreb cafes protest.

"Although it has been rumoured that more than 100 caterers in Zagreb will open their facilities on February 1, mostly cafes, or at least start issuing coffee and drinks outside, despite the work ban, it does not seem this will (now) happen, as many have withdrawn after seeing all the consequences that could befall them if they do, " Franz Letica, president of the Zagreb Caterers' Association, told Hina by telephone after the meeting.

On Friday 29 January, the Association of Caterers in Zagreb announced the opening of at least 100 bars and Croatian cafes would open on Monday. An informal meeting of caterers, many who were due to take part in the cafes protest, took place on the afternoon of Saturday 30 January. It seems that at the meeting, plans for the cafes protest fell apart. Caterers had faced the possible punishment of fines - from 20 thousand kuna to 70 thousand kuna - and up to three years in prison for defying the law and opening during the cafes protest.

Petra Odobašić, the owner of a catering facility from Zagreb who attended Saturday's informal meeting, also confirmed to Hina there would be no mass opening on Monday, but that only a dozen caterers would continue with the cafes protest. This handful of establishments were described as being situated mostly in the Dubrava area of Zagreb. Around 80 caterers attended Saturday's informal meeting, mostly from Zagreb, but some from other areas such as Karlovac.

Appearing on Croatian television on Saturday 30 January, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Coric appealed to caterers for patience.

"We hope there will be (patience)," he said when asked about the proposed act of defiance, "given that we have explained the epidemiological situation we are currently in. We need to think about the season - spring and summer - this will be the time when we can all reap the fruits of responsibility together."

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

2 to 12 Protest: Zagreb Caterers Closing for One Hour on Thursday

October 6, 2020 - Zagreb caterers will close for one hour on Thursday to continue the countdown warning of the difficult situation their businesses are in due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

HRTurizam reports that on Thursday, October 8, starting at 11:58 am, Zagreb caterers will suspend service in their catering facilities to warn of the difficult situation they are in due to the coronavirus pandemic and to encourage urgent action by responsible institutions to preserve jobs and prevent the collapse of the economy.

This protest is named "2 to 12" and is continued by the Independent Association of Caterers (Zagreb) to save the fate of thousands of employees in the sector and encourages citizens and caterers to show solidarity.

Encouraged by the devastating survey results on the operation of catering facilities in 2020 and the lack of reaction from responsible institutions after numerous appeals from caterers, the Independent Association of Caterers (Zagreb) with the support of the National Association of Caterers and the Voices of Entrepreneurs Association launches the "2 to 12" protest in the Croatian capital, which has over 4,500 facilities.

Caterers are looking for tax relief with a level of taxation that is realistic and paves the way for recovery. They ask the responsible institutions to suspend the collection of VAT until March 1, 2021, a permanent preferential rate on food - which according to the Food Act includes food, coffee, beer, juices, water, and wine - of 10%, access to HAMAG BICRO credit lines for liquidity and HBOR for investments,

Zagreb's situation is particularly difficult because, in addition to the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Zagreb was affected by the first major earthquake in the last hundred years, said Marin Medak, president of the Independent Association of Caterers.

"We are aware that problems cannot be solved overnight, but we are also obliged to warn of justified fears for our own existence. We believe that the Government will take a step forward and accept the call for dialogue. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic recognized the caterers' appeal and started talks on the application of future anti-epidemic measures with the experts. After the action of Bjelovar caterers called "3 to 12", the mayor of Bjelovar took everything in his domain to protect his fellow citizens and entrepreneurs. We expect the same from other departments key to the work of caterers and related activities, which together generate 320 thousand jobs," said Medak.

The caterers point out that all the problems accumulated before the pandemic are now being charged.

The doubling of VAT in the hospitality industry that suddenly followed on January 1, 2017, brought many to the brink of profitability. If the Government does not listen this time, the pandemic will eventually put the key in the lock for many. They say that the inherited problems and new business obstacles have forced them to act together and increasingly warn the Government of the shortcomings on the ground.

"Measures to preserve CES jobs will help caterers who saw a drop of 60% or more in turnover than the same period last year. However, what about us who have a drop of 59% or less?" emphasizes Damir Jurkovic, vice president of the Independent Association of Caterers.

"That is why we are looking for clearer and more efficient models for allocating funds for maintaining liquidity. We are not asking for free money, but access to credit lines for our employees' salaries and lower taxes to repay loans. With the highest tax rate on the preparation and serving of beverages in Europe, it is not possible to plan business in the future," says Jurkovic.

A sample survey of almost 500 caterers from all over Croatia found that almost 60% of them recorded a decline in business by more than 50%, and almost 40% face the fact that, in these conditions, they will not survive until next season. As many as 80% of employers will be forced to resort to terminating contracts with employees.

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