Lack of tourists keep restaurants mostly empty

Restaurateurs primarily blamed a lack of tourists and the requirement to implement social distancing between tables for the financial problems they are facing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey conducted by the Association of Catering Establishments shows.

The ACE observed that while restaurants were allowed to reopen, people still appeared to be fearful of entering certain public spaces, including restaurants, and said that consequently, restaurants saw a significant drop in customers.

While restaurants saw the reopening of the airport earlier this month as a lifeline, the survey, carried out between 6 and 10 July, suggests that this did not have the desired effect.

Very few report busy days

During peak lunch hours, only 5% of restaurateurs reported that more than half their tables were occupied, while nearly half (47.5%) said that around a quarter of their tables were occupied during peak times. 12.5% said that their restaurant was empty, while 32.5% did not serve lunch.

A staggering 70% said that only a quarter of their tables or less were occupied during peak dinner hours, though the figure did represent an improvement from June.

Ultimately, the majority of respondents (52.5%) said that their main problem was the lack of tourists. Social distancing was a distant second, mentioned by just 17.5%.

A number of respondents expressed concern that various tourist attractions such as museums remained closed, and that this reduced the number of people in certain areas

Restaurateurs question use of masks, smoking policy

ACE also said that restaurant owners were concerned about the wearing of masks or visors by staff, claiming that some individuals had certain health problems that did not allow them to wear such equipment, in addition to fogging up spectacles for those who wear them.

Additionally, restaurateurs heavily criticised the smoking policy introduced, requiring people to stay 10m away from the restaurant whilst having a cigarette. The ACE said that this was “absurd” for restaurants with outdoor seating, and that it would continue driving people away from the restaurants.

35% of respondents only had indoor seating, and ACE said that they were worst affected, with a respondent noting that people still feared entering an indoor restaurant.

“All of these statistics show that whilst the reopening of restaurants has helped restaurants to start recovering financially, this recovery is still very marginal. Costs have remained relatively high and the government has been insensitive to this discrimination between hotel restaurants and other restaurants. Hotel restaurants receive a higher wage supplement than other restaurants,” ACE said.

It also warned that once wage supplements end, restaurants would either need to find the way to rapidly increase their revenue or make many of their staff redundant.