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Italy's pandemic-hit eatery sector cautiously optimistic

As coronavirus health restrictions have been dramatically eased in recent months and tourists have also started returning to the country, Italy's massive pandemic-hit restaurant sector is slowly returning to normal.

Updated Jun 27, 2021 09:00 AM

Italy's pandemic-hit eatery sector cautiously optimistic

Streets that were mostly empty during the worst of the pandemic are again crowded. But restauranteurs say they are not yet ready to stop worrying, reports Xinhua news agency.

"Yes, things are looking better than they were but I still have a hard time sleeping at night," Simone Dordei, co-owner of Osteria La Gensola in Rome's bohemian Trastevere neighbourhood, told Xinhua. "

If there's one thing the last year and a half has taught us, it is that everything can go bad without much warning."

Dordei recalled the early days of the pandemic. La Gensola closed for the first two weeks of last year for refurbishment, he said, but despite re-opening only in mid-January, sales for the month were still better than the full month of January a year earlier.

By the third week of February, sales had surpassed those for all of February 2019.

Then, in early March, the pandemic struck and the restaurant closed its doors for three months under quarantine rules. The rest of the year was marked by a series of partial re-openings followed by new restrictions. For the year as a whole, Dordei said, La Gensola earned 80 per cent less than normal.

So far, coronavirus indicators show a positive trend over recent months.

According to the country's Ministry of Health, the national daily count of infections is now regularly under 1,000, compared to daily numbers of more than 10,000 as recently as April and 20,000 as recently as March. As of Saturday, the number of active cases in the country is at its lowest point since October 2020.

According to the FIPE, an industry group representing the catering and entertainment sectors, around one in five businesses in Rome, including restaurants and bars, have still not opened fully, despite the improving indicators.

According to Coldiretti, Italy's main agricultural and food entity, the pandemic's economic impact on the broad restaurant sector last year was 41 billion euros ($49 billion), with big losses continuing into 2021.

The restaurant sector's challenges have had an impact on diners as well.

Data from the polling firm Opinioni shows the average Italian is having a meal away from home 1.2 times per week, compared to 2.9 times before the pandemic.

Maria Rossi, the firm's co-director, told Xinhua the main reasons behind the lower numbers were income levels and pandemic-related health fears.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by FreshersLIVE.Publisher : IANS-Media