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Hospitality sector announces civil disobedience, refuses to abide by lockdown

Aug 26

Hospitality sector announces civil disobedience, refuses to abide by lockdown

The head of hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes union Tony El Ramy blasted the government, saying it has lost all legitimacy after failing to address their calls for assistance.

BEIRUT: Lebanon's hospitality head announced Tuesday a state of 'civil disobedience,' calling on businesses to defy the coronavirus lockdown and stop paying taxes to the government.

The head of hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes union Tony El Ramy blasted the government, saying it has lost all legitimacy after failing to address their calls for assistance.

'The funeral of the sector is underway,' Ramy declared in a statement in May as Lebanon's economic crisis, coupled with the coronavirus outbreak, intensified.

Last week, Lebanon's government announced a two-week nationwide lockdown, ordering all hospitality establishments to shut their doors as coronavirus cases surged.

The state of civil disobedience will remain in place until 'there is a new state that knows how to invest our money.'

Over 700 establishment had shuttered leading to 25,000 employees being laid off prior to the deadly blast in Beirut on August 4, while hundreds of others have halved salaries or shifting full-time workers to a part-time basis.

The blast, which detonated in Beirut's port, damaged over 50 establishments across Beirut. The most damaged areas of Mar Mkhael and Gemmayze, long heralded as the hub of tourism and nightlife in Lebanon, bore the brunt of the explosion.

Pierre Achkar, the President of the Hoteliers Syndicate, echoed Ramy's calls, labeling a state of disobedience as 'legitimate right' given the sector's losses of 'one billion dollars'.

'Only an international conference similar to the CEDRE donor conference will support our sector,' he added.

From 2009 until 2019, sales from Lebanon's hospitality sector topped $80 billion, head of the Syndicate Tony Ramy previously told Annahar, eclipsing the inflows of expatriates' remittances to Lebanon.

As a result of taxes and tariffs on these sales, Lebanon's coffers collected some $3 billion annually, Ramy said. It also created 160,000 jobs over the 10 year period, with tourists and expatriates alike flocking to the small Mediterranean country during the summer.

'We will not close our doors and we will not pay a single penny before a new state exists that knows how to invest our money,' Achkar said.

annahar