THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The triple lockdown that came into effect in the district from Sunday midnight has dealt a major blow to the hotels and restaurants in the city. With home delivery limited between 7am and 7.30pm and no takeaways allowed, hotels and restaurants are having a hard time staying afloat.
“We have been providing home delivery through Swiggy and Zomato and our food delivery executives. Compared to previous weeks, the orders have considerably decreased now as customers are scared of catching an infection. We practice ‘no contact delivery’ and the orders are numbered so that delivery executives can pick them up correctly,” said Akbar Ali, owner of Monte Nero, a restaurant in Ulloor.
Akbar had closed the restaurant completely during last year’s lockdown as no dine-in was allowed. He also faced a staff shortage. “However, after we resumed business in January, we thought of focusing more on deliveries so that we can make at least 10 per cent profit,” he added. Before the elections, they were getting good business but with the sudden spike in cases, the situation has become grim, he says. “Food aggregators like Swiggy and Zomato are charging 32 per cent of the revenue on every order or booking made through their apps. Earlier, the charge was 24 per cent,” he adds. Akbar is struggling to pay the rent which comes to over a lakh per month.”
“This second lockdown happened just when we were starting to feel hopeful about things. Since we are a small food outlet, we can’t afford to collaborate with food aggregators like Swiggy and Zomato. Some of our regular customers had been buying parcels but due to the triple lockdown, that has stopped,” said another restaurant owner.
BARRICADES PREVENT DELIVERY
Food delivery executives face many difficulties reaching homes inside containment zones. “We couldn’t deliver in most of the places due to the barricades. Some orders had to be taken back since customers were not allowed to come out and take the parcels. Many of us travel long routes to reach the customers,” said Shaheer Salim, a food delivery executive.
The Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA) members said though a request was made to the authorities to allow parcel service, it was in vain. “There are nearly 5,000 hotels and restaurants functioning in the district. Due to the crisis, about 500 have already shut shop. The remaining ones are struggling to survive,” said Jayadharan Nair, president of KHRA.