Corona could put 4500 Israeli restaurants out of business

Forced to close by the pandemic, up to one third of all restaurants and bars in Israel will declare bankruptcy by the end of the year.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Association of Restaurants and Bars in Israel fears that 4,500 restaurants, cafes and bars across the country are expected to close by the end of the year, Ynet reported Tuesday.

Although some 4,500 shopping malls have reopened, restaurants and cafes do not see the end of the crisis with 70 percent of all eateries still closed and suffering huge losses while the rest are trying to survive with only take-away service allowed.

The Health Ministry’s plans to allow restaurants and bars to open to half of their occupancy are not economically viable, industry leaders said.

Before the corona crisis there were 14,000 restaurants, cafes, bars and food stalls operating in Israel, and within a month and a half of the crisis 90 percent of them were closed and only 10 percent were able to open by offering home delivery.

As health restrictions were eased earlier this month allowing the public to travel more than 100 meters from their homes house, another 20 percent of food businesses opened for take-away, with sit-down meals still banned. Officials said 70 percent of Israel’s food business remains completely closed and the head of the Association of Restaurants and Bars, Shai Berman, estimated that by the end of the year 4,500 restaurants will be out of business.

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“Without a minimum 70 percent occupancy, restaurants will lose money and remain closed,” said Berman.

The crisis in the restaurant industry is being felt in wider circles, from soft drink and alcohol vendors to meat and cheese makers, florists, restaurant advertising and media outlets, culinary tour editors and even laundries responsible for cleaning chefs’ uniforms. 

Ginger PR firm owner Mor Shabbo, whose clients are primarily in the culinary industry, said since the crisis broke his business has plunged by 80 percent.

David Kishka, chairman of the Israeli Culinary Culture Association, which leads food tours in Israel and around the world, said their entire business has been paralyzed.

“We have absorbed 100 percent cancellations. These are the months that were supposed to be the strongest and everything was canceled until at least until September,” Kishka said.

While the Ministry of Finance wants to open restaurants on May 20th, the Health Ministry is sticking by its policy of not allowing them to do so before May 31st.