An event was held in the Santiago restaurant and shop complex Patio Bellavista to review the reopening of open-air dining in restaurants during Chile’s independence day weekend. The meeting was attended by Economy, Development and Tourism Minister Lucas Palacios, Providencia Mayor Evelyn Matthei, Tourism Undersecretary José Luis Uriarte, the chair of catering trade association Asociación Chilena de Gastronomía (ACHIGA), Máximo Picallo, as well as Álvaro Jadue, the chair of the trade association representing Barrio Bellavista.
Minister Palacios reported that of the 3,861 restaurants that are operating normally in the Metropolitan Region districts that are in Step 3 — Las Condes, Vitacura, Providencia and Ñuñoa — 45% opened their doors during the recent festivities, allowing them to restore thousands of jobs.
“Over 10,500 people have recovered their jobs as a result of this measure alone. And why is that important? Because you can’t compare work with any public policy. Work is the best social policy. We have a moral responsibility to allow people to recover their jobs so that they can provide for their families,” the Economy Minister stated.
Minister Palacios also highlighted the importance of reactivating the different industries that have been impacted by the global health crisis.
“This is the example of the restaurant industry. We are also doing this, for example, in construction. We are making this transition in various industries because Chilean men and women work in different sectors, and we cannot leave any of them behind,” he added.
The Mayor of Providencia, Evelyn Matthei, highlighted the positive response from families who had come to dine on restaurants’ terraces or in public spaces after the agreement was reached with restaurant association representatives to allow the reopening.
“It was a good agreement because we really did see many families enjoying themselves here. Patio Bellavista was full, as was the street Manuel Montt and many other places where our restaurants have been able to set up tables in open areas. I believe that we will move forward together as long as there is dialog, respect and responsibility. We are going to be able to move towards recovering jobs and what has been key here is the conversation between the municipality and the private sector, as well as oversight,” the Mayor said.
For his part, Máximo Picallo welcomed the restaurant industry’s ability to implement the protocols necessary to be able to operate, as well as the response from customers.
“We've seen goodwill from the customers; the restaurants have implemented the protocols and their workers are happy to be back. As the Minister said, 10,000 people have recovered their source of income after five months under the Employment Protection Law. While that is a good law, it will clearly never be able to replace their income or what it means to a person to be able to go back to the workplace in terms of dignity,” said the chair of ACHIGA.
Finally, the chair of the Barrio Bellavista association, Álvaro Jadue, praised the sector’s implementation of the changes over the weekend.
“In Barrio Bellavista, 70% of visitors usually arrive after 6 pm. This weekend we closed at 6 pm but we still achieved around 40% of our usual takeover, so the staff were very happy, the servers were happy and we were able to get this neighborhood moving. I’m very grateful to the authorities, our employees and all of the local business owners,” Álvaro Jadue said.