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Anti-flu measures cut Mexico eatery income up to 70%: association
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15:21, May 01, 2009

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Mexican eateries stand to lose up to 70 percent of their income because of measures taken to fight the spread of deadly new strain A/H1N1 flu, the Mexican Restaurateurs Association (AMR) told Xinhua on Thursday.

"The industry's situation has definitely been affected," AMR director general Silvia Guzman told Xinhua by telephone. "It will increase unemployment as restaurants will have to cut costs in order to recover."

At the start of the week, Mexico City authorities said that restaurants could only sell take-away food, as part of a broader package to fight the flu.

Bars, dancehalls, swimming polls, gymnasiums and public parks were among the places ordered closed, in a bid to halt contagion.

"Because of the financial crisis, our industry was already being hurt. With this situation that will increase," she said.

On Tuesday, a financial analyst at investment bank UBS said that 10 days of measures against the flu -- which causes high fever, headaches, muscular pain and breathing difficulties -- would shave 0.2 points off Mexico's already shrinking GDP. After this extra decline, the UBS sees the nation's economy contracting 4.3 percent this year.

"We are negotiating with the city government seeking help for waiters," said Guzman. As waiters are usually paid on a day-to-day basis, rather than on a half-monthly basis like most Mexico residents, they feel the loss of income far more quickly than most workers.

The closure due to flu is battering income during a period of national holidays, when it would normally be on the rise, she added.

"It's hitting some of the best days of the year," she said. May1, Friday, and May 5, Tuesday, are both national holidays, as they come both sides of a weekend, Mexicans tend to turn these into a four- or five-day holiday during which they spend money, celebrate and go out, nicknamed a "puente," or bridge.

"The puente is a time when people normally eat out, (so) the flu restrictions are a very limiting factor," Guzman said. Restaurants' losses may be supermarkets' gain, she added, as Mexico City residents buy ingredients rather than finished meals.

Source: Xinhua



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