Hotels, bars and restaurants are witnessing a new lease of life with the government allowing them to reopen from Sunday. While most establishments saw low footfall on day one, the owners are happy that there is now a chance to revive them.
Hotels and restaurants saw about 25-30% of their capacity used on Sunday, the first day after the government announced the reopening.
Many workers have been made redundant in different categories of the hotel and catering industry, from cleaning staff to chefs, said Biju Ramesh of the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said that in the past nine months there had been absolutely no activity at the restaurants and bars that form the backbone of the state’s hospitality industry.
Now was a great opportunity to rebuild a business area, which has great employment potential, said Sunesh Bhasi, who runs a popular restaurant in Kochi.
However, Mr Ramesh has expressed concerns about the government’s permission to keep bars open only until 9 p.m. He said people who worked normally used the bars until late in the evening and that the restriction to close them before 9 p.m. was a drag.
It is estimated that there are around 786 bars that serve drinks and nearly 350 beer and wine lounges across the state. Each of them employs dozens of people with different skills. These service points provide support to a large population of employees and their families, he said. While small units employ around 30 to 50 people, larger ones employ as many as 150 or 200, he added.
Azeez Moosa of the Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association, while welcoming the decision of the state government, said this step would be a great relief for the industry, especially those in the middle and lower groups, who do not had absolutely nothing to do during the COVID 19 lockdown. There are about 50,000 restaurants across the state and about 30% of them closed during the lockdown. He expressed hope that the business would resume now.