Corona pandemic and the catering industry: the waiters are only slowly returning

Corona pandemic and the catering industry

The waiters are slow to return

Thu 07/28/22 | 06:18 am | Of Marcus Latton

dpa/Karl-Heinz Spremberg

Audio: rbb24 Inforadio | Bild: dpa/Karl-Heinz Spremberg

Whether in the kitchen, at the counter or at the table: the gastronomy in Berlin is still looking for workers. The industry has recovered – and is still a long way from the level before Corona and the crisis. Von Marcus Latton

On Schiffbauerdamm, guests sit under pavilions, sip beers and wine spritzers and wave at the boats passing by. The Permanent Representation has a strategic location for a pub. There is a lot of running activity at this hotspot for Berlin visitors.

For Jörn Brinkmann, owner of the Permanent Representation, some normality has returned after more than two years of Corona. “Overall, we mastered the time well,” he says. Short-time work benefits and Corona emergency aid would have ensured the survival of his restaurant. “I wouldn’t have wanted to make the decisions that politicians made,” he says. However, not all of his colleagues in the Berlin gastro industry would see it that way.

Beware of further action

Landlords and pub piers, hoteliers and restaurant operators must already prepare for the fall: In federal politics, a return to the mask requirement and other pandemic control measures are being openly discussed. Jörn Brinkmann could come to terms with the face masks for guests and employees, he says.

But with rules that are more difficult to enforce, such as vaccination card checks or distance requirements, he would have a stomach ache. If the guests were still missing, his shop could only survive with further help from the federal government. “After the billions that have now been put into the Bundeswehr and other measures, I doubt that the money is there.”

Significant labor shortage

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a shortage of staff in the areas of kitchen, service and room cleaning for catering establishments. Many have resigned or been laid off since 2020.

Gerrit Buchhorn, deputy managing director of the Berlin Hotel and Restaurant Association, speaks for the capital of 80,000 employees subject to social security contributions who worked in the industry in 2019. In 2020 and 2021 there were just under 64,000 people. “However, the number is slightly up again,” said Buchhorn.

There has also been an increase in the number of trainees, for example as hotel specialists. However, the many vacancies could not be filled with this alone. Jörn Brinkmann, owner of the permanent representation on Schiffbauerdamm, was lucky with his staff: he only lost two employees during the pandemic.

Broadcast: rbb24 Inforadio, 07/28/2022, 08:00 a.m

Contribution by Marcus Latton

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