While it may seem like good news to most, restaurants re-opening across Israel as of May 27 is an ongoing deep struggle for owners, employees, and consumers alike. For the Israeli residents post-lockdown, many haven’t worked for months, lost their jobs, and don’t have the funds to go out and enjoy the luxury of dining.
For the restaurant owners, who need to operate within a great deal of new restrictions, must determine if it’s worth re-opening. Banks have turned down loan after loan, dubbing restaurants too risky, yet the city is making minute attempts to support the restaurant return. Given the need to place tables at least 1.5 meters apart and other space restrictions, some restaurants have been granted the ability to turn the parking spaces outside their buildings into an extended dining area. For now, about 115 places will also be able to utilize public spaces such as sidewalks and gardens. Municipalities in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have also chosen to shut down streets to vehicular traffic with the hopes that the public will return to consume. How it will be received by the public is largely unknown.
A report by Dun & Bradstreet Israel found that about 4,000 restaurants, may never re-open. While restaurant business is always risky, the tumultuous time without service, tourists and public health fears has created financial distress that restaurant owners simply can’t bounce back from. Restaurants might only be able to bring back 60% of their staff, and even then, are uncertain whether they will be able to pay their debts racked up the past two months.
With little to no government support, even the restaurants which are planning to re-open fear that the public re-opening won’t see as many customers. From public fears about getting ill to the financial hardships that the majority of residents are now facing, it may be a long time before the restaurant business returns to booming.
In what was a top thriving industry inviting culinary respect from around the world, the hope is that Israel’s restaurant re-opening will continue to serve up delicious tastes to all.