Tamil Nadu

Eateries in T.N. see poor patronage on day one of reopening

While physical distancing limits capacity, restrictions on operational timings add to the troubles

On day one of restaurants reopening in the State, after being shut for over 10 weeks, patronage ranged from the dismal to the average.

Restaurants enforced physical distancing norms by changing seating arrangements, reducing their capacity by around 50%. Items on the menu too were trimmed.

Hoteliers in Madurai said that sales was poor.

“Ensuring that all our employees are paid and our premises are disinfected five times a day is tough. We are fine with following rules but we barely have any customers to serve,” said K. L. Kumar, district president, Tamil Nadu Hotel Owners’ Association.

Across the State, including in Tiruchi, Tirunelveli and Salem, many air-conditioned eateries and those attached with hotels decided to wait for further relaxations.

Of the 602 hotels and restaurants in Tirunelveli, only 20% conducted business on Monday, with waiters serving food to customers wearing masks and gloves, said Ramkumar, president of the Tirunelveli district Hotel Owners’ Association.

A few restaurants in Coimbatore urged customers to reserve tables in advance. While norms prescribed by the district administration were largely complied with, smaller eateries facing space constraints could not be stringent in enforcing physical distancing norms.

In Salem, only a minimal number of restaurants opened for dine-in, and most hotels restricted themselves to takeaways. A popular vegetarian chain of restaurants served food in disposable packaging.

M. Venkadasubbu, president, Tamil Nadu Hotels’ Association, said that it would help if the government extended operational timings till 10 p.m. “Dinner time in Tamil Nadu is from 7.30 p.m., and if we are to close early, our regular customers will not be able to come,” he said.

Association secretary R. Srinivasan said that it would take time for the revival of the hotel industry. “Tourism and business activities are yet to pick up. Madurai and Coimbatore are major business hubs and those visiting these cities usually form a portion of the clientele. Only when the COVID-19 scare is done away with and things return to normal can hoteliers heave a sigh of relief,” he said.

(With inputs from: P. Sudhakar in Tirunelveli; T. Madhavan in Vellore; Sanjana Ganesh in Madurai; M. Soundarya Preetha in Coimbatore; V. Vignesh in Salem; C. Jaishankar in Tiruchi; and Deepa H. Ramakrishnan in Chennai)

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 7:53:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/eateries-see-poor-patronage-on-day-one-of-reopening/article31782644.ece

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