Margate (United Kingdom) (AFP)
"Don't come to Margate!" In this seaside resort in the south of England, it's the message that a group of traders terrified of a second wave of coronavirus is trying to get across, while others are in a hurry to reopen. to survive.
"In normal times we would be absolutely delighted to see that people take advantage of a long sunny weekend to come to our deck. We would organize lots of events. But not now. It's too early," said Jodie Ellena, one of the owners of the Bus Café, a restaurant that overlooks Margate Bay.
His coffee on a red double-decker bus could have continued to sell take-out during the confinement in effect since March 23 in the United Kingdom. But Jodie Ellena preferred to close.
"We have a small space. So to maintain social distances and the safety of our employees, our customers and the public, we have a lot of reluctance," she explains.
"If we can in July it would be fantastic. It would just allow us to hold out financially until the winter. But if we have a new influx of visitors and we have to start again (to confine everything), we would lose all summer season "crucial for this seaside resort.
The ace. After more than two months cloistered at home, the inhabitants of Great Britain rushed to the beaches last weekend, families and small groups of young people basking in the sun on the sand. They could start again these days, encouraged by a loosening of government directives: sunbathing and exercises are now authorized for an unlimited period as are day trips by car.
- "Good for the mind" -
"It is good for the mind to go out. The first three weeks of confinement it was going after that drives you mad," explains Ian Walters, a construction salesman who came with his partner and his child, in front of the pastel facades of the few restaurants that have installed distanced tails.
Elena Monzchi, a young Italian from London, is disappointed. "I didn't think it would be closed," she said, having a beer with a friend.
She is puzzled by the fears of certain businesses faced with the arrival of tourists. "Once you let people out ..." she says, pointing to the crowd around the beach.
"There has never been a real confinement in London," she adds, referring to the much lighter controls than in Italy, Spain or France. It is "especially what scared me".
Ed Warren, owner of Cliffs café and vinyl store, and one of the signers of the "Don't Come to Margate" campaign, is "confident that there will be a second wave of viruses, given the way things have gone. been managed "by the government.
It remains closed in particular because it would not be profitable to sell only a few takeaway coffees. Its five employees are unemployed.
"I understand that some businesses want to reopen" but "I would feel guilty for encouraging people to come given the state of things," he concludes.
The United Kingdom, the second most bereaved country in the world (at least 37,460 dead), still had some 400 new deaths on Thursday due to the Covid-19. But Downing Street considers sufficient progress to allow all retail businesses to reopen from June 15, provided they allow the required social distance in addition to hygiene measures.
Rachel and Ben Williams relaunched their homemade ice cream store last weekend and can't wait to do the same for their adjoining antique store.
"This is our only source of income. And we are far from earning as much as before the coronavirus," says Ben.
"During the confinement people didn't come at all, now they can't spend money," laments Rick Everett, chairman of the council of the agglomeration of Thanet, which includes Margate, with behind him the Turner museum, which normally attracts lots of visitors.
His only hope for the season: that the restrictions on international travel and the tighter budget of the British encourage them to spend their holidays in Great Britain.
© 2020 AFP