Coronavirus weighs heavily on eatery business

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Customer turnout declines by 30%, workers afraid of losing jobs

Restaurants across the country, especially in the capital, are now experiencing low turnout of customers amid detection of coronavirus-infected individuals in the country, which many fear may bring the hospitality business to a grinding halt.

“The number of customers at restaurants fell by at least 20%-30% within a day after the first coronavirus-affected patients were identified in the country,” said Rezaul Karim Sarker Robin, secretary general of the Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association.

“If the situation continues for two or three weeks more, we will even fail to pay wages of our workers,” he said and expressed fear that a collapse in restaurant sector would badly impact the entire economy.

The association leader, however, could not say what they should do right now to tackle the situation.

“We are waiting for the government’s instructions,” Rezaul Karim said and called for a comprehensive government directive to fight the situation.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) confirmed eight ecoronavirus-positive persons in the country till Monday.

It also informed that 2,314 people across the country were put under home quarantine for coronavirus.

Originating in China, the virus spread above 140 countries across the globe and affected economies. It also forced to shut down thousands of restaurants worldwide, including in China, France and Italy.  

Realizing the ground reality, the World Health Origination (WHO) has declared the disease as pandemic and urged all governments to take urgent and aggressive measures to check its spread. 

Customers said they avoid talking food outdoor or at restaurants in fear of contracting the deadly virus. 

“It is safer to stay away from crowed places, which is why I avoid eating at restaurants,” said Monir Hussen, a consumer in the capital. “I think everyone should be aware of the deadly virus,” he added. 

A good number of restaurants at Panthapath, Shukrabad, Farmgate, Bailey road, Mogbazar, Rampura and Banglamotor areas in the capital were found almost empty of customers immediately after the first coronavirus case was detected.

“In the first day we saw 20% fall in customer number and in the second day it fell by more than 30%,” said Nurul Amin, manager of Alam Restora at Banglamotors.

The only reason behind the fall was coronaries fear, he added.  

HM Mahmood, manager of another restaurant in the capital, said, “They did not see such low turnout of customer since the restaurant was launched two years ago.”

“If corona becomes epidemic here, the restaurant business will a big loss,” he said.

Meanwhile, due to low customer turnout and fall in sales, employees at restaurants are afraid of losing their jobs.

“I have to maintain my big family,” said waiter Arif Rahman and added that he draw, on the other hand, a small salary. 

“We have to heavily depend on customers’ tips. If the number of customers reduces day by day, we will fail to earn the minimum amount,” he said. 

Another worker, Aslam Uddin, said that they were at risk due to coronavirus as they had to serve people staying close to them.

“I can’t give attention to my work because of two reasons. The first is fear of contracting coronavirus while the second is reduced income,” he added.

“I have to serve people who come here from different areas and I don’t know who are carrying coronavirus. So it is a risk for me,” he said and added that he had no option.