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In Italy and Portugal, organisations representing lorry drivers have demanded roadside restaurants reopen – not just on motorways, but on other roads too.

According to the current restrictions in Portugal, restaurants should be closed at 1pm on the 28th-29th November. The same restrictions also applied last weekend. Meanwhile, in Italy, bars and restaurants must close at 6pm.

Organisations of lorry drivers in both countries say that decision-makers have forgotten that catering facilities are not only for the sake of food. They point out that such facilities are often the only places where drivers have access to bathrooms. As hygiene is a priority during a pandemic, access to clean toilets is important to prevent further spread of the virus.

When measures are taken to restrict access to commercial spaces, it is necessary to take into account that the commercial and catering establishments located on the highways and main roads are essential for those who spend their lives on the road. And no, it is not only the question of food but also the daily hygiene and satisfaction of the basic needs of any human being ”, stresses the Independent Union of Freight Drivers ( Sindicato Independente dos Motoristas de Mercadorias – SIMM) in an open letter sent to the Portuguese Prime Minister.

SIMM argue that lorry drivers cannot simply stop working as it would endanger the consistent supply of essential goods in supermarkets, hospitals and in industry. However, in order to guarantee the operation of transportation, “they [the drivers] want and need dignity during the performance of their duties”.

ANITA, an association that represents road hauliers in Italy, has made a similar appeal asking the government not to close services for travellers.

Effectively managing the health emergency from COVID-19 also means taking care of the needs of the drivers of heavy vehicles who continue incessantly, with extreme dedication to work and commitment, to supply the entire community ” – said Thomas Baumgartner, President of Anita.

As trucks do not travel exclusively on motorways, ANITA stress that drivers need a network of places administering all the required services, whether it be for hygiene, food or rest.

The French drivers’ union has already fought this battle with their government and had 250 roadside restaurants reopened. However, drivers in France want more – indeed they are also demanding the reopening of all roadside catering facilities.


Photo credit @ Lionel Allorge/ Wikimedia Commons

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