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Restaurants: Let us open for dine-in

  • Published at 06:40 pm May 22nd, 2021
Restaurant Covid-19 pandemic
Close to 2.8 million people depend on the restaurant industry for their livelihoods Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

They also agreed to serve only half the number of customers if the government wants

Restaurant owners have demanded the government to allow the resumption of dine-in services at the hotels and restaurants across the country while ensuring compliance with all the necessary health directives. 

They also agreed to serve only half the number of customers if the government wants. 

Restaurant owners made these demands while speaking at a press conference organized by the Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association (BROA) at its Bijoynagar office in Dhaka on Saturday.

Imran Hassan, president of the BROA, also said that they want incentives for the workers of the restaurant sector.

Also read - ‘The restaurant industry is on the brink of collapse’

“Our workers need to be encouraged during this pandemic; we want cash incentives for them. The government should provide incentives through mobile financial services or issue ration cards to them for food assistance every month,” he said.

They also demanded that restaurant owners be allowed to pay electricity, gas, and water bills without surcharges and asked for more time to pay due bills.

Speakers at the press conference said that 98% of restaurants in Bangladesh operate out of rented spaces. 

A government representative should discuss with landlords regarding the suspension of rent or an extension on the time given to pay the rent, they urged.

Syed Mohammad Andalib, organizing secretary of the BROA, said the restaurant business is a service sector and the government should recognize it as such. 

“Restaurant staff provide meals to all frontline workers. They supply food to different places including hospitals. So, this sector should also be recognized as a frontline service sector and vaccines should be ensured for all on a priority basis. Our guests will feel comfortable taking the service if the restaurant staff are vaccinated,” he further said.

Andalib added that they have repeatedly appealed to the government for incentives from the funds allocated for the SME sector. 

They want this booming sector to be given soft loans from there, and incentives for staff, he said.

Also read - Now restaurant owners seek loans from SME Foundation

According to BROA, there are currently about 60,000 restaurants across the country, with more than 8,000 in the capital alone. 

Close to 2.8 million people depend on the restaurant industry for their livelihoods, while the number is several times higher if it includes the supportive sectors.

Trouble began after the outbreak of Covid-19 last year when several restaurants began letting go of staff, while many sold off their businesses. Some were unable to survive and closed shop entirely.

Nearly 25-30% of the restaurants closed permanently after the first wave of Covid-19, and 50% of ownerships were transferred as their original owners could not survive, said the BROA.