Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil
And 2 days after the announcement of new anticovid measures in Moscow, the situation did not become clearer. Entrepreneurs-owners of restaurants and food courts feel like pariahs pointed out by the mayor's finger and have appointed them as terpils, which they talked about at the OSN TV online press conference.
The new fun of the Moscow mayor's office - the QR code, which has become a symbol of the third wave of the coronavirus - is still viral. Until no one saw him, they promised to start appropriating only from tomorrow. They have no hope that unvaccinated citizens will rush to get immunizations or tests at $ 50 per person in specially designated hospitals.
"We have 10% fully vaccinated. This means that restaurants will have empty halls. Then close everything, full lockdown. Compensate everything, not like then!" - exclaims the businessman, restaurateur, public figure Andrey Kovalev.
Chaotic and ill-conceived measures of the mayor's office leave a lot of questions. Andrei Kovalev remembers well the words of the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova, that the main source of infection is "public transport and a little at home".
There was no talk of restaurants and shopping centers. But the metro, as it transported millions of people a day, will carry it. Are the planes flying? Of course they do. Even to the plague-ridden India. Kovalev asks the question, what smart guy allowed Indian students to fly to Russia? This is not the Moscow authorities, this is the federal government. But nothing will happen to him, you can only convey a special thanks from small and medium-sized businesses. As a year and a half ago, it was not known where the foci of transmission of infection are, and now no research has been carried out. At least nothing is known to the general public about him.
Olga Korneyeva, co-owner of the Burger Heroes restaurant chain, says that a few days ago, as soon as it became known that it was necessary to apply for permission to work under the new rules, they registered in a special register. There are 5 days left before the start of work on the new rules, but they did not receive an answer whether their application was approved. The entrepreneur is racking his brains - probably, you need to wait for additional checks whether her restaurants meet the requirements of the Moscow Department of Commerce. The memories of spring 2020 and winter 2020-2021 are still fresh in everyone's memory:
"Our industry has been recovering for a very long time since we were opened in July last year, very slowly. In winter, most restaurants were covered with another wave. Our attendance has decreased. I can tell from my restaurants, the restaurants of my colleagues that we have not reached the indicators of 2019. On average - minus 20 percent in relation to 2019.
Now we perfectly understand that for the sake of going to a restaurant, people will not go to take tests, that among those in Moscow 2.5 million are vaccinated, the majority of elderly people, that is, not our target audience. A lot of people were only the first to take root. There are assumptions that attendance will drop by 90%".
Business is in a gloomy mood.
"In the event of a one-time violation, the restaurant is excluded from the register, and can re-submit itself after 30 days. From which we conclude that this situation is with us for a long time. This is not for two weeks or a month. We, as a business, are ready to endure, so long as this situation does not drag on for many years", - says Korneyeva.
Nobody can say this and does not want to.
The reaction of visitors was not long in coming. When the owner of the restaurant Tatiana posted on her website a message that now visitors are required to present QR codes, there was no end to the outraged comments:
“Don't worry about my health, I'll take care of it myself! Worry about my civil rights and read the Constitution 👎 ”. “It's a pity that you deliberately chose the path of discrimination, and you might not have made such a choice. I liked it with you, but now I will not go to you in principle. " “This is how the collapse of the restaurant business in Moscow began - episode 1 - “denial ”)))))))) - these are only the most reasonable statements that are left by former visitors.
"Why restaurants, albeit in a truncated form, can work, but food courts are not allowed?", - Andrey Kovalev wonders. In food courts, the boarding is free, there are more seats and the queues are not the same as at McDonald's. Only McDonald's works, and there is a queue of 50 people at the checkout counter, and food courts, where two or three people stand at 45 counters, are closed.
"I'm just sure of this that urgent measures need to be taken, or we will lose business in our country. The restaurateurs themselves say - shut us down, we cannot work in such conditions. What should property owners do? There is a queue of tenants for me - they say the food court is closed, we will not pay rent. What should I do?
This electoral lockdown is declared by the authorities as a way to force people to vaccinate. Restaurateurs feel punished for the government's failed vaccination campaign. Prohibitions alone will not improve the situation. There is a certain part of the population that is ready to be vaccinated, for example, by Pfizer, because Sputnik is recognized by only a few countries. Businessmen are confident that this will give 10-15% of those vaccinated. The restaurant owners make this offer out of despair and fear of losing their business forever. It is obvious that the authorities and associated manufacturers of Russian vaccines will not want to let a competitor into the country.
"Closing restaurants is a half-measure, like a cannon in sparrows. The sooner we achieve herd immunity, the sooner this situation will exhaust itself. In this case, only restaurants, only catering are about nothing. It makes sense then to talk about the entire service sector. And it makes sense for the government to consider some kind of subsidy and support for the business. And in this case - we donate", - Olga Korneyeva is sure, expressing the opinion of the industry.
Oleg Berezin, Chairman of the Council of the Association of Cinema Owners, talks about the administrative overlap and the authorities' unwillingness to take responsibility. In the regions, each head makes his own decisions. In Bashkiria, where QR codes were introduced in cinemas, attendance fell 5 times. Who will compensate for the loss?
"The problem of mass vaccination will be solved at the expense of private business. State-owned enterprises will receive compensation, while private business will sort out its own problems on its own. It seems to me that this is unfair. Although we were told last year that nowhere is it written in the Constitution that the state should support business. Therefore, we do not harbor any special illusions", - says Berezin.
Businesses are ready to offer their assistance to the authorities in developing measures and are asked to sit down at the negotiating table with the federal and local governments. Only the authorities have no desire to discuss aid programs. Their attitude was very clearly expressed by the State Duma deputy, the first deputy of the profile committee on economic policy, Sergey Kalashnikov: the rescue of the drowning is the work of the drowning themselves. So he said:
- A business that hopes that a kind uncle will come and help him in the person of the government or aliens is a business that does not stand with two feet on the earth. Business must understand that the main source of its solution to problems is itself, who finds new solutions. This does not mean that he should not ask questions and convey his demands to the authorities. But for the momentary situation, these decisions are unlikely to be implemented and will be useful. Understanding support from the authorities, business should proceed from the understanding that its personal decisions are a priority.
This is how the Russian government, “standing with two feet on the ground,” with all its branches renounces its direct responsibility to create framework conditions for enterprises that pay taxes, that is, they are sung and fed. All countries of the world spent 25-30% of GDP each last year to support business, Andrei Kovalev is indignant, ours spent 4%. This is a catastrophe. In the Duma, not a single law was adopted that would be aimed at developing business, and not at strangling it. And that's all the authorities can say?
- Who will save the country? Officials? Not! Small and medium-sized businesses are the locomotive of economic development. We must make Russia a paradise for people who want to work and earn money. Now the Duma has finished its work with populist laws - to raise taxes for the rich and so on. The last will scatter, who will be left? Oil workers and security guards. These are powerful economic reforms! - Kovalev is sure.
True, the deputy Kalashnikov himself admits that the situation in the economy is critical, and in some sectors it is simply fatal; nevertheless, the state cannot provide quick targeted assistance. Small and medium-sized businesses have great doubts that they can hear their voices. In 2020, when business was strangled as best they could, the National Wealth Fund and gold and foreign exchange reserves grew by 70%, says Andrey Kovalev. Business was not helped even with a word:
- The country needs the Stolypins, not the Lenins. The demand for revolution is ripening in society. This is a very bad signal. Once again - powerful economic reforms!