The future of the food service sector in Europe: A roadmap beyond Covid-19

The ongoing health crisis is having a devastating impact on Europe’s restaurants, cafés and bars.

Since the beginning of the crisis, public authorities have been alternating between various combinations of movement and gathering restrictions in an attempt to rein in the spread of the disease. As a result, the sector has faced a patchwork of measures, ranging from curfews to maximum patron capacity to complete closure, often with minimal advance notice.

The threat that the embattled wider hospitality sector faces is existential as many businesses face permanent closure. The impact goes beyond revenue and jobs and into the character of our communities. Local spots and the culture they foster are woven into the social fabric of our neighbourhoods and the European way of life.

Owners are confronted with what seems to be a moving target. After last spring’s lockdowns, they invested in safety and hygiene concepts, only to revert to delivery and takeaway services, before closing down again. That has been the picture across Europe, with few exceptions.

With the prospect of a third wave, the sector is in urgent need of a consistent policy strategy that goes beyond closures and immediate financial relief.

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