Monday, January 17

“Not to close”: owners of bars, cafes, restaurants resigned to verifying the identity of customers

“It’s a constraint, but we prefer it to closing.” Bosses of bars, cafes and restaurants are resigned to having to soon verify the identity of their customers, under the terms of the bill being adopted in Parliament, to curb the fraudulent use of the health pass, which will become a vaccine pass.

“Having to verify the identity will certainly be very embarrassing, it is not what one expects when entering a hotel or a restaurant. It is an undeniable additional constraint for our professionals”, told AFP Hervé Becam, vice-president of Umih, the main union in the hotel and restaurant industry.

“But if it has to be done and if it is a way to get out of the crisis as quickly as possible and to avoid closing, of course we will do it,” he adds.

The bill adopted at first reading in the Assembly Thursday after heated debates provides that, in addition to the police, the managers of places and activities subject to the pass such as cafetiers and restaurateurs will be able, under conditions, to verify the pass. validity.

But this control will not be “systematic”, assured the Minister of Health Olivier Véran. It is “when there are serious reasons for believing that the document presented is not authentic or does not relate to the person presenting it” that an identity document may be requested, specifies an amendment.

The government refers to a “banal” identity check, similar to that imposed on tobacconists to prevent the sale of tobacco to minors. And “when you pay by check, you are asked for your identity document”, insisted Prime Minister Jean Castex at the microphone of BFM / RMC on Thursday.

“We will comply but we will not be able to demand a 100% control, it is impossible”, affirms Didier Chenet, president of the GNI, employers’ union which represents independent hotel restaurants often reluctant to this control.

“It’s really not our job to do the cops. I’m not a conspirator at all, I’m vaccinated, but here I find that we are entering a dictatorship”, told AFP Luc Minaire, owner of the Lyon stopper The museum. “Obviously I am the law, even if I do not agree,” he adds.

– “Bad contact” –

For Amandio Galhalo, owner of Mercado negro in Roubaix, a former textile factory converted into a bar and restaurant, “you have to deal with it, you have to get out of it”. “But it’s embarrassing: we question the word of the customer, it immediately creates a bad contact”, he says.

If the text is adopted as is – at its second reading in the Assembly, after having passed the Senate – holding a false pass will be punishable by five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros. Presenting one belonging to another or transmitting one for the purpose of fraudulent use will be punished by a fixed fine of 1,000 euros, against 135 euros today.

According to the Minister of Health, “5% of hospitalized patients” in France have fake health passes.

Hoteliers, cafetiers and restaurateurs are especially worried about the fall in activity due to health constraints such as reinforced teleworking, reports the employers who urge the government to guarantee that “companies in difficulty will be able to be helped up to their loss of figure business of the moment, ”says Becam.

“This is the first concern of our professionals today”, he summarizes, with “the repayment of loans guaranteed by the State (PGE)” and the possibility of seeing partial unemployment compensated “at the same height that in the heart of the crisis “, a year ago.

Same observation of Mr. Chenet: the bosses are “much more worried about compensation which today does not meet our expectations”. Organizations in the sector are preparing to publish a survey of 3,000 companies, assessing their loss of activity.

This week, companies in difficulty obtained increased aid, as well as the possibility of spreading their PGE repayments up to 10 years and postponing the first repayment deadline by six months.

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