SINT-PIETERS BRUGGE, Belgium (AP) — Master chocolatier Dominique Persoone stood forlorn on his huge workfloor, a faint smell of cocoa lingering amid the idle machinery — in a mere memory of better times.
Easter Sunday is normally the most important date on the chocolate makers’ calendar. But the coronavirus pandemic, with its lockdowns and social distancing, has struck a hard blow to the 5-billion-euro ($5.5-billion) industry that’s one of Belgium’s most emblematic.
“It’s going to be a disaster,” Persoone told The Associated Press through a medical mask. He closed his shops as a precautionary measure weeks ago, and says “a lot” of Belgium’s hundreds of chocolate-makers, from multinationals to village outlets, will face financial ruin.
For the coronavirus to hit is one thing, but