MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish bars and restaurants – hallowed institutions in the nation’s life – hope that coronavirus vaccinations can help restore their revenues by the end of next year to 2019 levels after sales dropped by half this year amid the pandemic.
In its annual report released on Tuesday, the Spanish Hospitality Industry Association (HDE) said however that if vaccines fail to prevent new waves of contagion and tighter restrictions next year, sales would continue at 2020 levels, putting more businesses in jeopardy.
About 85,000 establishments have been wiped out this year.
“With clouds still in the air, I am confident that Easter will be a turning point,” HDE President Jose Luis Yzuel told a news conference.
He said he expected the summer season to at least “look like before” the pandemic.
“And at the end of the year (2021), this will have been just a bad dream,” he added.
Before the pandemic struck, Spain had the highest density of bars in the world with one for every 175 residents, according to a study by Nielsen consultants.
The tourism-dependent economy is one of the worst-hit in Europe, with restrictions such as lockdowns and night-time curfews imposed to stem the spread of the virus. COVID-19 has infected more than 1.75 million Spaniards and killed more than 48,000.
Spain imposed its second state of emergency in October with new restrictions that have lowered new infections to less than 200 cases per 100,000 people, one of the lowest in Europe.
The country plans to start free and voluntary vaccinations in January after regulatory authorities give their approval, and expects to have between 15 million and 20 million people vaccinated by May or June 2021.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan)