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Catering industry pleads 'no to plastic, yes to outdoor terraces'

The hospitality industry has come up with a campaign “NO to Plastic! YES to outdoor terraces!” with hopes to draw attention of decision-makers and society to challenges in the industry, Latvian Radio reported April 14.

The Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Rural Tourism Association “Lauku ceļotājs”, Asnāte Ziemele, told Latvian Radio that in order to reduce the amount of plastic waste and at the same time to help the hospitality industry survive in difficult times, the government should allow caterers to provide their services on outdoor terraces.

Ziemele said out that the industry, together with the Ministry of Economics, has developed steps to provide services safely.

“When spring is present and warm, we want to call on the government to look at how many [people] are sitting near restaurants, sitting on benches, eating food in disposable food packages, and often throwing them into meadows, woods or rivers. Or - [the government could] allow restaurants, cafes and street caterers to set up a safe, large table with disinfectants and real dishes,” Ziemele said.

According to the head of Latvian Association of Hotels and Restaurants Santa Graikste, 40%-50% of catering establishments have not survived the crisis. 

Restaurant-pub “B Bārs” owner Armands Mednieks acknowledged he expects the government to give the green light and allow to serve customers on outdoor terraces, and to serve food not in plastic containers but on normal plates.

“It's a crazy pile of garbage. Madness. I spent around €2,000 on single use dishes in my business with a relatively small turnover a month. But I'm a small business. Think about what is happening for those who are currently selling actively – sushi, pizzas, kebabs. Plus a big tax on natural resources. The circulation of dishes is insane. I can't imagine what's going on in the dumps.”

Mednieks also said it was also absurd that the caterers were also allowed to leave the terraces outside throughout the winter but were not allowed to use them.

“Riga has been made a ghost town. The terraces stand outside, they are sealed. The police are driving around and chasing those who have sat there. People want to sit down. At least one person, one household could be allowed to sit there to use it somehow,” he said.

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