He tried everything again. Casimir Platzer wrote to the Federal Council. He wrote to the leaders of parties and parliamentary groups. He called the national and state councils. Nothing should be overlooked these days to save Swiss restaurants.
The industry is on the brink. Thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of jobs are at great risk. Platzer is right in the middle. As President of Gastro Suisse, he is at the forefront of the struggle for survival. Currently against the Federal Council, which has left companies in the dark for weeks. Despite the prescribed closures, no help has come so far. Platzer says:
And he adds: “Our people will soon have nothing more to lose.”
The crisis also hit him personally
Platzer currently operates on a go-to-go basis. In the Intercity between Bern and Zurich he has time for a conversation – in the unattended dining car. The Bernese Oberlander brought a little ham sandwich and zero cola; his lunch. Since mid-October, her daily life has been as intense as in spring. “Phone, phone, phone. E-mail, e-mail, e-mail, ”says Platzer. “This is currently determining my life.”
He is also present in the hotel he runs with his wife in Kandersteg. The crisis hits him personally: 6 of the 30 employees have just been made redundant. Tourists are lacking. Platzer tells this calmly and objectively. And he also speaks quite soberly about the decisive crisis. You don’t notice the stress in him. He says:
One can only guess how much weight is on his shoulders. It makes a balanced impression. Is he a good actor? Or does it have nerves like wire cables? He probably knows it: in a crisis a hectic pace doesn’t help, but calm does a lot. “I am not a scared person. I prefer to act and tackle things, ”he once said.
Skillful explosions – hospitality in the blood
Platzer wears a suit and a handkerchief, he is sturdy and his hair is slightly tousled. The dialect shaped by Oberland. He was born with the hospitality industry. He was born in England in a hotel family, attended school in Ticino, then attended the hotel school in Lausanne. His family has run the Belle Epoque Hotel Victoria in Kandersteg for 43 years. He chaired the international association of hotels and restaurants.
This courteous and agile Casimir Platzer, who takes his place in the train, does not correspond to the image that the public has seen of him in recent weeks. He chose pithy words, and sometimes rebelled with both hands of the Federal Council. He says:
Clever: “Platzer can climb in a very controlled manner,” wrote the NZZ. The multilingual Oberländer seems to have mastered what good hosts can do: always find the right language – from the regulars table to the Federal Council room. For the moment, the harshest language is again requested.
In Bern, Platzer is a successful extractor – normally
Until April 16, they were calmer. Then came a low and turning point for Platzer. The Federal Council has communicated the relaxation. But on the restoration: not a word. “It was very painful. Then we knocked on the table. “
He puts his cell phone on the draw table, it is currently his most important work tool. Hosts in pain called him. Report of journalists. The 58-year-old man knows how to play with the media. There is hardly a newspaper that Platzer did not participate in this weekend and lobbying. Platzer is one of those who know exactly where to step in the engine room of Bernese politics if they want to achieve something. He is well connected. Gastrosuisse even has its own paid lobby group among parliamentarians. Most portraits of him say he’s with almost every Federal Councilor.
Bern decisions – without much knowledge of the hospitality industry?
If lobbying is somewhat disreputable for others, Gastrosuisse has always been proud of its successes. Whether it’s a smoking ban, alcohol limit or VAT: the industry learned early on that lobbying was imperative. Why not fight back when others want to downsize your business? There have been pithy or alarmist words before. But we were heard, particularly with the FDP and the SVP; although not all victories have been crowned with success. During the crisis, there were suddenly other alliances. The left was in agreement with the rent exemptions. And somehow everything is a little different now. Since December 11 at the latest, concerns about gastronomy have barely passed.
Casimir Platzer, who knew Bernese mechanisms by heart, no longer understands what is going on there. The situation is too chaotic. There is a confusion of powers between the federal government and the cantons. The parliamentarians remained outside. The Federal Council has constantly changed the requirements. Sometimes it ends at 7 p.m., sometimes there are exceptions and then more. It has never been in the best interests of the industry. Platzer says:
He adds: “This has mostly happened in ignorance of the industry.” He, who succeeded in Bern, suddenly collects criticism in his own ranks. “Many tell me: you are doing a great job – and thank you for your commitment. But there are also few who criticize me and tell me that I am not achieving anything. “
How are restaurants influencing the spread of the pandemic?
Some would also blame the restaurant business itself: they fought for a long time – and successfully – against closures. Platzer does not accept this. There is no scientific evidence that there are more infections in restaurants than on public transport. “If restaurants were transmission stoves, there would be more infected workers.” Platzer has struggled more with politics than most politicians in recent weeks. This made the 58-year-old man known throughout Switzerland. He shakes his head. No, he doesn’t want to get into politics.
It has already been discussed whether it would be useful for the association to run for the National Council. But if he was in a party: he would have to be bourgeois (and he would have chances in the Oberland, especially with the SVP list). But that would force him to engage in a ploy of other parliamentarians. Platzer wants to remain independent and continue to cooperate with the left and the right in the future.
The drought will likely last for several months
Wednesday is the day of truth. Liechtenstein, Austria and Germany have found simple solutions. Was it possible for Platzer to influence him in time? He does not know the result either. The country’s largest donor hopes that the measures will be the same everywhere in Switzerland. It is not – as in the case of the hardship regulation – that individual cantons can reduce the money. Because help is now central, says Platzer. He believes the drought wave will continue: he suspects that a reasonably normal operation will only be possible in May or June, with vaccinations and warmer weather. International tourism will not really pick up until 2023.
The train arrives at Zurich main station. Platzer crushes the empty Coke bottle and says goodbye. He rushes from the platform of the metro station. He does not go up the escalator, but hurries up the stone steps with the suitcase in his hand. “I haven’t been tired for a long time,” he said as he left.