Coronavirus lockdown | Poor patronage hits hotels, restaurants in Kerala

Dim prospects: An empty restaurant in Thiruvalla.

Dim prospects: An empty restaurant in Thiruvalla.  

Eateries reduce seats to ensure physical distancing, but customers stay away

Hotels and restaurants in central Travancore are on the verge of closure as people are yet to venture out against the backdrop of COVID-19.

The lockdown that began on March 24 and the consequent shutdown of business establishments has taken a toll on the hotel and restaurant industry.

“Though the government has permitted normal functioning of hotels and restaurants adhering to COVID protocol since June 8, our business is yet to pick up for want of customers,” says Sasi Isaac, working president of the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Owners’ Association district unit.

“People appear to be scared of entering hotels and restaurants, even though we have made all necessary arrangements to ensure physical distancing of customers, and sanitising etc.,” he said.

“Initially, we started with the sale of food packets. But, in a place such as Pathanamthitta there are few takers for food packets sold at hotels. The few hotels that offered food packets on an experimental basis too downed shutters for want of customers,” Mr. Isaac, who runs a hotel in the town, said.

Now, many hoteliers are thinking of keeping their establishments closed for a few more weeks in the wake of the rise in number of cases.

At Thiruvalla

Janardhanan Ramamurthy, who runs vegetarian hotels at Thiruvalla and Alappuzha, said business at both the eateries had come down by 60 to 70% after the lockdown. He cited the absence of floating customers due to restricted people’s movement as another factor for the poor customer flow.

Mr. Ramamurthy said the number of seats at his Thiruvalla hotel had been reduced to 25, from the usual 55, to adhere to physical distancing. However, the building owner was magnanimous enough to reduce the rent, besides waving the rent for April and May, he added.

Labour shortage

Mr. Isaac said labour shortage was another issue facing the hotel industry as a good number of Assamese and Bengali workers had left for their home villages.

He said those hotels having lodging facility faced another predicament with the administration identifying them as paid quarantine centres for Non-Resident Keralites. The hoteliers were not supposed to rent out rooms at these hotels.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 10:05:48 AM |

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