Low footfall and limited items on Day 1

A server without gloves and the mask not covering his nose attending to a customer in a restaurant at Sampath Nagar in Erode on Monday.

A server without gloves and the mask not covering his nose attending to a customer in a restaurant at Sampath Nagar in Erode on Monday.   | Photo Credit: M_GOVARTHAN

Will wait and watch if situation improves, say hoteliers

Less than 50% of the hotels in Erode opened on Monday, served a limited number of items and saw low footfall.

Erode has over 350 small, medium, large and chain of hotels and restaurants in the corporation limits.

They were not allowed to switch on air-conditioners, were asked to carry out disinfection five times a day and shut their operations by 9 p.m.

In a meeting with Erode Corporation Commissioner M. Elangovan, the Erode City Hotel Owners Association appealed for extending the time till 10 p.m., stating that more customers came only in the evening.

While most of the large chain of hotels and restaurants remain closed, small and medium hotels functioned on Monday. Only idli and pongal with sambar were served in most of the hotels for breakfast. While a few hotels served full meals, the others served only variety rice.

“We cannot expect good business on day one as people still fear venturing out”, said M. Ashokan, who runs a hotel on Perundurai Road.

The norm that servers should wear gloves and masks was not followed in many hotels, thus posing a risk to customers.

Hotels near the railway station and bus stand did not open. Many hoteliers in the city said they would operate only if the situation improved.

“Our customers are mostly families and it will take more time for them to visit us”, said a restaurateur at Moolapalayam. “Still people believe that it is not the right time for eat out with families”, said another hotelier in the city.

Only a trickle

In Krishnagiri too there was lukewarm response from the public to the resumption of dine-in service at restaurants.

Many eateries saw only a trickle, while some vegetarian restaurants saw the numbers swell for breakfast.

Non-vegetarian restaurants that normally attract a large number of customers were seen struggling, with the menu depending on the customers’ choice.

“If there is demand for mutton biriyani on a given day, we will increase it by 2 kg the next day,” said Satish Kumar, Manager of Mangalam.

His restaurant had operated with a total workforce of eight persons -- from cooking to billing -- since the start of the lockdown, for home-deliveries.

It had shuttered three course meal options, and restricted its catering only to biriyani. Restaurants like his have restricted entry for the public.

For instance, Mangalam has closed its air-conditioned space. The open restaurant with six tables now has only three tables. Of the three, only two got filled, he said. The footfall was only 20 per cent of the pre-COVID times. “We have taken all precautions, including gloves, masks, caps for the workers,” he said.

Takeaways in Salem

In Salem, majority of the hotels restricted services to takeaways. Only a minimal number of restaurants offered dine-in service. Even bakeries avoided dine-in service.

Hoteliers said the way forward was uncertain as fear of COVID-19 spread persisted among customers. They also said the operational costs would increase owing to the use of disposable items instead of reusable ones to serve food.

The staff was also minimal, which impacted the time taken to serve the customers.

“Only 40% hotels have opened and the response from customers is lukeworm. We are facing difficulties in bringing staff from other States and districts, said secretary of Salem District Hotels Association P.L. Palaniswamy.

The government should consider exempting hotels from GST, in order to help them survive, he said.

(With inputs from S.P. Saravanan in Erode, P.V. Srividya in Krishnagiri and Vignesh Vijayakumar in Salem)

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 1:43:17 PM |

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