Tables inside Primavera Italian restaurant in Moscow’s Shchukino district should have been full on a Monday afternoon, but the only diners sat outside braving a thunderstorm.
For Moscow’s bustling restaurant business, it was the first day of a strict new QR code regime that requires diners to provide proof that they have been vaccinated or have a negative PCR test to eat indoors. And diners didn’t seem to have gotten the memo.
“It’s hell,” said Oksana, Primavera’s manager, clutching a QR code scanner after she rejected another dejected couple in hopes of sitting inside. “I’ve had two tables inside all day because no one has a QR code. Storms Stores in all other locations are open. Why [are the restrictions] only for restaurants? “
For months, Moscow was the rare European capital where restaurants and bars remained crowded for much of the pandemic, a parallel reality seemingly beyond the country’s estimation. hundreds of thousands of Covid deaths and a vaccination campaign that has inoculated only 11% of the population.
Now, Moscow’s cafes and restaurants are likely to be affected by the city’s delayed response to the coronavirus epidemic. After the government’s lackluster campaign for Russians to receive injections of Sputnik and other domestically produced vaccines, the cafe owners have said they feel they are being “slaughtered” as the government scrambles to contain an “explosion” in new. cases.
“The state is simply solving its problems by sacrificing the small restaurant business,” said Artem Temirov, co-founder of the popular Chernyy Cooperative coffee shop, which served roughly 40% fewer customers than usual on Monday. “There is no support from them because they let you work, the cafeterias are open, it is not yet a closure. And they don’t care how you pay the bills, they need to show that they are fighting the Covid pandemic. “
As a lesser culture emerged from the Russian government’s decision to limit resort vacations, non-essential surgeries and other facets of public life for the unvaccinated, restaurants appear to be the next hot spot. When Coffeemania, a popular luxury chain, announced that it would follow the new rules, Instagram readers criticized restaurants for acting “like slaves” and compared the new rules to the Holocaust.
“The comments on this post are the portal to hell. Hang on,” read one reply.
The growing inventory of health certificates necessary for daily life has become something of a joke.
“May I have your QR code? Your PCR test? Your antibody test? Now what would you like? “An anecdote read on the radio was.” A Big Mac and Cola “, was the answer.
But for the city’s restaurateurs, the new QR code regime was no laughing matter. On a normal Monday, Tamada, a Georgian restaurant in Shchukino, would have served 160 people at noon, mostly local office workers devouring cheesy cheese. Khachapuris or “business lunches” of stewed meats or skewers. By Monday, only 40 had arrived, most sitting on a summer terrace that would also require QR codes next month.
“All we can do is pray that people get vaccinated and then go out to eat,” said Zara, Tamada’s only waitress.
The city says 2.5 million QR codes have already been purchased and the system will undoubtedly become more orderly. But restaurant owners worry how long they can survive under current conditions.
If income falls 40-50%, Temirov said, his coffee shop would not be profitable, but he could survive a month or two by borrowing money to pay wages. If revenues fell more than 50%, it would be “a catastrophe.” They would try to make up the difference increase online sales of your coffee. But doubts remained about what help they could receive from the government.
“They failed with the campaign around vaccination because three months ago they said that Russia defeated Covid, everything is fine,” Temirov said. “And now they are urgently trying to assure people that vaccination is the only way to survive. Where were they all year? “