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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Covid-19: A long road to recovery for restaurants

Owners urge government to bail them out of the crisis

Update : 26 Jun 2020, 09:51 PM

While the Covid-19 pandemic has sent the booming eatery business across the country, particularly in Dhaka, into a nosedive, the owners have said the sector is on the verge of ruin.

As the hospitality business started to experience low turnout of customers since the detection of first cases in March, the stakeholders said they find no light of hope in the ongoing situation either.

Once, when city folk enjoyed delicious ready-made foods and engaged in conversations at leisure in restaurants, now they refrain from those activities fearing contagion.

Faced with such harsh realities, the owners of restaurants have urged the government to bail them out of the crisis.

The restaurant sector has suffered terrible blows owing to the Covid-19-induced lockdown as all bookings since late March were cancelled, owners said.

Syed Mohammad Andalib, publicity secretary of Bangladesh Restaurant Owners' Association, feared for the survival of the sector while talking to this correspondent over phone.

"Not only are the staffers suffering but also the restaurant owners, who are passing through hardship since late March," he said, adding that over 10 million people were dependent on the restaurant business throughout the country.

"Only around 200 restaurants of Dhanmondi and Gulshan were able to pay salaries to their staff regularly, while others could afford to keep their chefs and workers till April," he said.

"There are at least 100,000 owners and 2,000,000 staff in 60,000 big and small restaurants in the country, while nearly 18,000 restaurants and cafes are registered with us."

He urged the government to realize their four-point demands, including full-fledged opening of the restaurants till night ensuring health regulations, long-term loan on 0% interest to the owners, financial aid to the workers, and removal of various taxes.

"We cannot depend only on home delivery service as it covers below 10% of the sale. Moreover, only 3% to 4% restaurants can run businesses dealing with the delivery services properly," Andalib said.

He also urged the authorities concerned to listen to their appeal as he claimed that the restaurant business contributed one-sixteenth to the national budget. 

This sector has an annual turnover of around Tk1,800 crore and contributes directly to the Annual Development Program (ADP), he added.

Jahid Hossain, manager of Dhaka Café Club near Bashundhara residential area, said  sales in the cafe declined drastically in the days of the lockdown.

"Now we can sell around Tk1,000 a day while it was over Tk4,000 in the usual days for a small restaurant like ours. Only 15% of customers appear at our facility compared to pre-lockdown times.  

"Amid such a crisis, we have talked to the staff about adjusting their salaries in line with sales," he added.

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