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Manpower shortage, virus fear keep people away from dining-in

Even as the State government allowed dine-in services at restaurants and hotels from Monday, only a meagre 20 per cent of the city’s hotels preferred to let customers in.

Published: 04th August 2020 04:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th August 2020 04:46 AM   |  A+A-

As the city inches closer to normalcy, people are seen enjoying lunch at a hotel after the government lifted restrictions, in Chennai on Monday | DEBADATTA MALLICK

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Even as the State government allowed dine-in services at restaurants and hotels from Monday, only a meagre 20 per cent of the city’s hotels preferred to let customers in. Lack of manpower, limited timings, seating and fear among the public and the staff have been quoted as few reasons for the low turn-out.

S Nizanthan, a restaurant owner from Adyar said, “Since the turnout was lesser than expected, we switched back to only takeaways, later in the day.” M Venkadasubbu, president of the State Hotel Owner’s Association said, hotels that opened across the State have concurred losses, and some of them remain shut even after four and a half months.

“There are about 30,000 hotels and restaurants in Chennai, and the workforce here was mostly dependent on migrant labourers. It is now difficult to run a restaurant with most of them gone back to their native.”
“Usually, people like to dine-in at restaurants, when they go to office, or during the weekends. Now since almost all are working from home, and Sundays are complete lockdowns, the situation is different.

The turnout is less in other districts too since most of them are at their hometown,” he added. A recent GO had stated that restaurants could function with 50 per cent staff and allow customers in half of the total seating arrangement, besides using disinfectants and sanitizers to clean the tables with. “The spraying of disinfectant, use of sanitation and electricity concur extra costs for the owner, who did not have a stable income for the past few months,” said F Thanveer Rahman, who runs a biryani shop.

Venkadasubbu added, 50 per cent seating capacity, and a reduced number of employees, force the restaurants to come with a limited variety of dishes only. While the government has asked restaurants to function till 7 pm, hotel owners feel the “prime time” of profit is lost.

“In TN, people usually go to restaurants after 8. Even now, with people working from home, many would prefer to go out and eat only post 8 in the night, but by the time restaurants will already be closed,” he added.



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