The owners of bars, cafes and nightclubs openly opposed the New Year's restrictions, and even posted a "Resistance Map" on the Internet with the addresses of establishments that will work "no matter what".
The protest turned out to be bright, but short-lived - Smolny tamed the rioters in one night raid. As a result, the business changed its mind and promised to be patient, and the officials agreed in response to "work out the possibility of easing the bans".
TAMING OF THE SHREW
Since the beginning of December, the Governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, has stated that "quite a bit" separates the city from a complete lockdown - there will be enough places for patients with severe COVID in specialized hospitals until the end of the year, but if massive crowds are not prevented, then "red trait "and the transfer of all hospitals to the infectious mode. In order not to aggravate the situation, the Russians were asked to refrain from visiting the Northern capital on New Year's holidays. The tourism industry was asked to curtail the planned programs, hoteliers - to limit the flow of guests, the restaurant business - to actually switch to a virtual service mode. To those restrictions that are already in force (a ban on the work of clubs at night, strict sanitary rules, a reduction in seating places), the notorious Beglov Decree No. 121 added new ones: from December 25 to 29 and from January 4 to 10, catering establishments in St. should work until 19:00, and from December 30 to January 3 they will be closed altogether.
Dozens of restaurants, cafes and bars expressed their categorical disagreement with the ban on working on New Year's holidays and refused to obey, explaining that they simply would not survive otherwise. Smolny responded to the outrage without ceremony.
"They did not enter, they ran in aggressively, screaming and began to lay everyone on the floor. If someone tried to ask or did not perform, they received a truncheon from full swing," - told Fontanka the details of the loudest scandal on the night of December 8-9 Oksana Vasilenko, the manager of the Commode bar on Rubinstein Street. She confirms that the establishment, contrary to the order of the authorities, worked behind closed doors, "for its own." Police officers, the Investigative Committee and the National Guard called the intercom, but they were not opened. After that, the raid participants began to break down the door and “put the visitors face down”. A video appeared on the network in which riot police beat people in a bar. The visit, started by storm, ended in two criminal cases for the revealed violations (provision of services that do not meet safety requirements in bars).
The next morning, the “Voice of Smolny” - the head of the Situation Center for Compliance with Safety Standards, Head of the Committee for Industrial Policy, Innovation and Trade Alexander Sitov. He stated that force was used in response to the illegal actions of "so-called entrepreneurs". There was a threat to continue checks, despite the fact that the strikers asked for peace.
Business has a good ear - in the morning no one doubted that all the entrepreneurs who appeared on the "Protest Map" were in the "so-called". At that time, there were already under three hundred of them, and plans were being hatched to bring the number of rebellious institutions to such a figure that the government would back out of fear. Alexander Konovalov, a well-known businessman in St. Petersburg with a very interesting background, did not hide his active involvement in the action.
A former operative, a graduate of the University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Konovalov on his VKontakte page calls himself a specialist in economic security, tax optimization and franchising. The media called him the curator of illegal street trade, wine glasses, hookah bars and beauty salons in St. Petersburg, fellow restaurateurs - “a phenomenon that manages to confront, and get along with the authorities. " Some were even surprised that this time the lucky man was not lucky - the Commode bar given by the riot police is considered to be affiliated with Konovalov. By the way, the inspirer of the protest and the action itself supported by one of the largest business representatives of the Northern capital Yevgeny Prigozhin, who said that the industry that "ended up in hell" really needs help. "Other famous people also took pity on the St. Petersburg restaurateurs who got into trouble - for example, the deputy of the State Duma Gennady Onishchenko and the Presidential Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of Entrepreneurs Boris Titov. The famous musician Sergey Shnurov expressed "absolute solidarity" with the bar resistance. “It took thirty years to learn, if not to live humanly, then at least drink. There is no turning back!”, - he wrote on the social network. But the matter did not go further than sympathy, Smolny did not even take an ear in the direction of the "pitiful", so the rebellious restaurateurs considered it best to "make their feet" and leave the place on the "Resistance Map" as soon as possible.
"WE THRASHED OURSELVES"
"The challenge thrown by the business could be considered a sharp increase in the rates in the negotiations, if the authorities of the Northern capital conducted such negotiations", - lawyer Fyodor Trusov told Novye Izvestia, - "But that doesn't happen. So for restaurateurs, publishing places where the law will definitely be violated is practically suicide. Contrary to opinion, that business “has nothing to lose”, it is not. In the event of an escalation of the conflict - if the restaurateurs ignore the fines and rip the seals off the sealed establishments - the authorities will have something to answer, and this answer will not be delayed".
The forecast was confirmed literally the next day after the conversation. On the night of December 18-19, the supervisory authorities of St. Petersburg suspended the work of nine catering establishments. In relation to the owners of bars and clubs, who continued to receive visitors after 23:00, contrary to the ban, administrative proceedings were initiated, legal entities face a fine of up to 300 thousand rubles and the same article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation for “providing services that do not meet safety requirements”.
The list of violators includes bars located in the center, on the embankment of the Griboyedov Canal, in Bankovsky Lane, Moskovsky Prospekt. In addition, 180 visitors to the establishments who were there during the raid were brought to administrative responsibility.
“To pinch clients is the most dastardly technique used by the authorities against business”, - said the manager of the karaoke hall on Gorokhovaya Street, who introduced himself as Viktor, to Novye Izvestia, - "People will be afraid to us walk...".
The interlocutor regrets that the protest "against Beglov's covid-measures" was not massively supported by the townspeople, and in the entrepreneurial environment, it did not work out - “everyone would come out as one, - another thing, even if the New Year was met in a human way, and so they will ferment at home".
President of the Association of Owners of Passenger Vessels of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Rodionov, said that he saw nothing new in the reaction of the authorities - Smolny, like any other government, would never make concessions after the adoption and broadcast of its decision. It is like admitting the fallacy of your actions. Moreover, they will not make concessions when talking to them in an ultimatum. Smolny neutralized the harsh reaction to the ultimatum by holding meetings with loyal business representatives, approving reactions from federal officials, and his own promises to soften restrictions, ”he told Delovoy Petersburg, at the same time criticizing the businessmen’s venture with the “Resistance Card”: “They whipped ourselves. It was necessary to be more creative, to laugh at the statements and decisions of the authorities, for example, to include there everyone who received a work permit at the New Year's fair", - Rodionov said.
DON'T LAY THE BLAME AT THE MIRROR
"The restaurateurs were the first to raise a cowardly screech, "Konovalov publicly reminded his critics. - I understand them, of course, and I'm scared myself, but... Entrepreneurs are actually free people, not cowards. You know, everything goes to the fact that... They just frightened the people. The entire business community saw that they would be beaten, everything began to be canceled, discredited the project, they began to add leftist establishments, competitors, strangers... As a result, we first changed the name, and then removed the entire map".
After hanging on the Internet for only two days, the "Map of Resistance" changed its name to "Map of Unification" and closed the geotags of catering establishments that refuse to comply with Resolution No. 121. At the same time, the website "Karta" published an appeal from restaurateurs with a directly opposite manifesto that "the authorities heard us", "there was a constructive dialogue", "we will not be allowed to go to waste" and so on. Who are these lovely people, turned 180 degrees, not it is also a question of how many of them there are. (In Smolny they speak of a "large group" who themselves united into the Restograd community, they did not issue ultimatums to Smolny; January 1st).
It didn’t work out ahead of the curve, but now restaurateurs loyal to the authorities are actively involved in discussing a possible easing of bans for public catering. No specifics, however, no, and there are even signs that the authorities will "roll back" not visible.
Nevertheless, Smolny is not overjoyed the outlined "effective interaction between government and business. "It seems that "efficiency" is associated with a single meeting of Beglov with a reputable restaurateur Aram Mnatsakanov. At the meeting, Mnatsakanov assured the governor that “the business will hold out. Of course, we will suffer losses, but nothing will happen to us until January 10th”. On the initiative of the prosecutor's office, a dialogue also took place between a number of business representatives, the ombudsman for the rights of entrepreneurs and Vice Governor Yevgeny Yelin. At the end of the conversation, the city's prosecutor Sergei Litvinenko warned the restaurants: "Just don't form an opinion that we don't find a common language". Further development of relations between business and law enforcement agencies has not been reported. But it seems that the only safe platform where St. Petersburg businessmen freely and without batons discuss their problems and express an ardent "desire to work" is ZOOM.
SUCCESS CREEPED UNSIGNED
The correspondent of Novye Izvestia took part in one of the Internet meetings. It is noteworthy that the disgraced Alexander Konovalov is now not invited anywhere, but it seems that entrepreneurs and experts agree that the hype he has raised is already a success.
“The mechanisms of dialogue have long ceased to work in the country”, - said Stanislav Potemkin, chef and director of the Petrov-Vodkin restaurant, emotionally: “The authorities and business each live their own lives, solving only their own urgent problems. Nothing good about that. Who came up with the 10 to 19 regime for restaurants? This is clearly a person not from our sphere, paper general. The restaurant's working hours are evening, it is a tradition and part of the culture of St. Petersburg, how can you not understand it... "Map of Resistance" is a cry of despair. Even in a negative way, but she drew attention to the restaurant community.
We agreed with this. Those who do not rebel, the speakers said, will be the first to die. There hoteliers are silent in a rag - they have a drop in revenues by 90%, the tourist business has folded its legs - no appeals, no protests - how many firms will survive after the lockdown?
"The appearance of the "map" served as a catalyst for meetings with business. But I am surprised that the signatories were called outcasts", - Alexander Batushansky, general manager of Aram Mnatsakanov's Restaurants, spoke out of the blue with the chef. At first, everyone flirted with the same Konovalov, helped: a coffee machine on the street - please, indulgences - as much as you like... As soon as you spoke out against the closure of restaurants, everyone hung labels. Let's figure it out. The situation today is really difficult, and the volume of decisions that the government can make is very narrow. What can, in principle, be closed in the city to say that there is a fight against COVID-19? Except for shopping and entertainment centers, restaurants, cinemas and museums - nothing! Neither shipbuilding nor the metro will be closed, and the government controls what it can, that is, us. This is happening not only in St. Petersburg, but also in any other city of Russia, because they face exactly the same problems: the authorities today cannot be envied anywhere. The governors refer to the doctors - "it was not we who came up with it, these are their recommendations." But where are these doctors? Why aren't they called? The authorities are working on speculation, and not on specific verified models. Therefore, only one tool is used - to close, restrict, punish. It is also tough in Europe, but if a restriction is imposed on business, it will be compensated for the losses. Where's the compensation? This is impossible - "If you don't work for 14 days, you will survive, nothing will happen to you..." We will survive... But we cannot ignore the people who work for us. But actually we - both protesters and law-abiding ones - just wanted to draw attention to the colossal mistake of the authorities. They literally hammered a nail into the coffin of the industry. And after all, this decision [the ban on the operation of bars and cafes] has nothing to do with the fight against coronavirus. As if the virus after 23:00 becomes especially dangerous...
The same envoy of Smolny, Alexander Sitov, looked after the ZOOM conference. The bar protest against coronavirus restrictions helped officials notice years of violations of sanitary and other standards, he said. So the “romantic flair” and the image of “heroes of resistance” in relation to these establishments is not appropriate, the official stressed, although those gathered at the screens obviously did not sin with romance, rough prose prevailed - how to survive and not be left without pants.
Petersburg journalist Georgy Markov knows a lot about the ways of business survival in lockdown. According to him, quite a lot of establishments work until one in the morning and until six in the morning, 80 percent work after 23:00. Someone works on advance booking and only with "verified" clients. Many establishments have installed a caller ID on their phones. “Everyone uses some opportunity to the extent that is available,” he says. "Everyone has their own connections, and inspections are usually warned about". "Material incentives" are also used - this is when the doors of almost all the bars are open at night, and the patrol passing by does not care. And the main thing: the center of resistance of restaurateurs is the city center, in particular Rubinstein Street, occupied by the businessman Konovalov. More than a dozen establishments on the "map" he created from there. But, in fairness, they are good at partisans on other central streets - the OMON and the National Guard will not be enough to catch everyone on New Year's Eve.
Catering establishments that did not openly support the protest, but also did not refuse it, declare that they are ready for punishment for violation of the regime. In particular, rumors about this have leaked from the “Laboratory 31” bar network. “We will still try to work”, a network representative told NI on condition of anonymity. - Yes, we understand that we are violating the regulation and resigned ourselves to possible punishments. Now we are not thinking about making money, but about survival and helping the staff. More than 50 employees work in the network. Everyone needs to pay for housing, study, loans, help their relatives. It is simply inhumane to take away from us the very opportunity to support workers. Kovid is not an excuse, the government hid behind them in order to finally strangle the independent business in St. Petersburg".
The authorities, however, remain in the same position - the continuation of the work of cafes and restaurants poses a threat to visitors and their employees.
“The work of restaurants has not been stopped, they continue to work for delivery, they have been offered collaborations with street city events, so to say that business is being killed is a rhetorical dramatization”, - Alexander Sizov, a representative of Smolny, inserted his five kopecks to the participants of the video conference, for some reason reproaching them that they "protect the bandits" (they meant entrepreneurs who do not want to obey the prohibitions - ed.) According to him, Smolny is ready to meet socially responsible business halfway.
Leonid Garbar, President of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of the North-West, warmly supported the topic of social responsibility: “We need to put forward consolidated demands. When we sent a collective letter - to allow those terraces that had already worked before to work in the new year, and to allow them to take the tables out into the street - we were allowed !!! We, restaurateurs, are in sight. Why do you need to ruin us?!"
But something about taking out tables in the cold, as a form of social responsibility of business, did not come into the discussion. Aleksandr Zatulivetrov, who had previously been silent throughout the conference (he heads a consulting company that manages more than 20 restaurants, writes books about restaurants - “How to start, How to succeed”), soared up: “There is no trust in the authorities. We always appear in front of her as a supplicant. And the population says: it is correct that these rogues were closed. We are enemies to everyone. We were thrown to be eaten". Igor Prashchenko, managing partner of the White group (restaurants Ferma, Chaika, Deda Khinkali), was frankly angry at the role of the fairgrounds imposed on businessmen and called out: “I will not participate in the sabbath of fairs, I will not feed on the street. Unsanitary conditions. There is nowhere to wash your hands, there is no toilet. And street trade itself in winter is not a full-fledged delivery, take-out is a minus work. Optimally - work on a holiday until 22-23 hours. The rest is a poultice on a wooden leg".
The discussion about social responsibility, having flared up, returned to its usual tracks - to the irresponsibility of the authorities to business. They reconstructed their actions and modeled their behavior competently - the St. Petersburg authorities, even if they wanted to, have nothing to object. Everything is so: for example, that for her a small business is not at all something that needs to be saved, because he, in her understanding, it still grows like grass. Hundreds of restaurants and cafes open and close every year, and there is no reason to try to preserve these particular restaurants right now. After the pandemic someday ends, new establishments will sprout on any ruins, perhaps even opened by the same people who are now complaining about life. Therefore, they will not retreat back, they will not withdraw money from any large infrastructure projects to save small business. The problems of borrowed loans or staff left without wages are the problems of Indians, for whom there is a labor exchange.
As Georgy Rykov, investor and owner of Proviant restaurant, said, “Mutual claims are meaningless. An entrepreneur is something small and unnecessary. Therefore - sit, endure and hope that you will not be taken away from you. And the answer to the question why it is so difficult for business to influence the authorities was absolutely mournful: “The choice of entrepreneurs is either to accept the rules of the game, or to refuse to participate in it”.
I tried to make a cheerful note Alexander Abrosimov, Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of Entrepreneurs in St. Petersburg: “The authorities are not interested in creating a revolutionary situation. Business is needed for the society to be harmonious”.
The good news ended there and everyone disconnected from ZOOM.
ARITHMETIC OF LOSS
The radio turned on with an overview of events. "The current situation remains tense. Hospitals redesigned for coronavirus infection are working at the limit of their capacity with a 99% bed occupancy"б - said Andrey Sarana, First Deputy Chairman of the Health Committee. "Earlier, Rospotrebnadzor reported that St. Petersburg has been on a plateau in terms of COVID-19 incidence for several days". “While the issue of the plateau is being resolved in healthcare, Smolny is in a hurry to assure the townspeople that a total lockdown will not be introduced for the holidays. Rumors about a softening of the regime for some industries have not been confirmed either". The reason for the rumors was the statement by Vladimir Putin that while the borders are closed, Russians should rest in St. Petersburg. The question is - should tourists come? - hung in the air. Smolny officials managed to get away from him".
The losses of St. Petersburg from a decrease in tourist flow this year are comparable to half of the city budget. Coronavirus restrictions on New Year's holidays will deprive St. Petersburg restaurateurs from 50 to 90% of revenue, respectively, the city budget will lose another quarter of its income. This is the logic of the new prohibitions. What can you do - COVID is to blame for everything.