THE return of the hospitality sector to Benidorm and other parts of the Costa Blanca has been very low key with only half of all businesses estimated to have reopened.

Valencian Community COVID restrictions were loosened yesterday(March 1) allowing bars and restaurants to resume trading after they were ordered to close on January 27.

Their reopening has been a muted affair with an enforced closure time of 6.00 pm and no indoor service permitted.

The current restrictions coupled with the fact that there are very few tourists in Benidorm have not made it economically viable for many hospitality businesses to reopen.

Estimates have varied between a third and up to a half of establishments serving again.

President of the ABRECA association, Javier del Castillo, said: “The places that have reopened are those in local residential areas that have a regular clientele. There are barely any reopenings in tourist zones because it would unviable to trade with few customers and taking staff out of the ERTE furlough scheme.”

Benidorm’s quiet hospitality return has been mirrored across the Costa Blanca, with outdoor terraces restricted to 75% capacity and there must be a distance of 1.5 metres between each table, which can only be occupied by up to four people.

Emi Ortiz of the Alicante Hospitality Business Federation said: “It is all insufficient and businesses with a just a few tables have not bothered to reopen.”

Many bars and restaurants, especially away from the coast, do not have any terrace facilities at all, with around a third believed to fall into that category.

There is cautious optimism that trade will pick up this weekend especially in areas like Alicante, Benidorm, and Torrevieja that have had weekend perimeter closures over the last few weeks.

The current measures are in force until March 15 and will be reviewed at a meeting on March 8 between hospitality groups and Valencian officials.

Business representatives will repeat their demand for indoor reopening at a reduced capacity in addition to parity with non-essential shops to remain open until at least 8.00 pm

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