ZAGREB (Reuters) – About 400 owners of bars and restaurants in Croatia’s northern Adriatic halted work for an hour on Thursday in an appeal to the authorities to help them survive the coming months as the coronavirus crisis threatens their businesses.
Guests were allowed to remain in the bars, restaurants and the terraces with their orders but were not served during the stoppage.
“We want to warn the authorities that we will not survive the winter months without help. This is a problem which bothers not just us, but also tourist agencies and guides,” said Vedran Jakominic, who heads the association of bar and restaurant owners in the northern Adriatic regions of Kvarner and Istria.
Taxes remained too high and many businesses risk closure, he said.
“The banks do not expect that many of us will survive and are not willing to provide liquidity loans,” Jakominic said.
The association believes some 20,000 people could lose their jobs in the coming period.
They propose a reduction of the value added tax on food and drink in bars and restaurants and some measures for an easier access to liquidity loans.
Croatia expects to suffer an economic downturn of close to 10% this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The government planned the budget gap this year of some 25 billion kuna ($3.94 billion), or 6.8% of gross domestic product, in an effort to save jobs, but still many business, most notably in the tourist industry, fear they would not be able to stay afloat until the next summer season.
(Reporting by Igor Ilic, Editing by Angus MacSwan)