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Restaurant sector ‘on brink of collapse’, says association

By Maram Kayed - Oct 13,2020 - Last updated at Oct 13,2020

AMMAN — President of the Jordan Restaurants Association Omar Awwad estimated the losses incurred by the sector over the past month, including the two-day comprehensive curfew last weekend, at about JD40 million.

The two-day comprehensive lockdown has “cost and will continue to cost the sector greatly,” Awwad told The Jordan Times.

The JD40 million includes losses incurred by all kinds of tourist and popular local restaurants, coffee shops, cafes and what falls within the framework of the food and drink industry, he said.

Awwad urged the government to revoke the decision to impose comprehensive lockdown on weekends, noting that the sector is “still affected by the previous two-week ban on dine-in services and the 42-day national lockdown in March.”

“The sector is unable to withstand new closures. I do not know how many times I have to say this, but my sector is on the brink of collapse,” he added.

Aref Rawashdeh, an owner of a tourist restaurant in Jerash, said: “Our sector is bleeding. My losses have exceeded all expectations. I have had to let more than 15 young men go, which was the hardest decision I had to make given my knowledge of their financial situation.”

“The Tourism Ministry has further exacerbated our condition. It took them three days to grant us permission to reopen our dining area, which, as a tourist restaurant, is our only way to offer food. A few days later, just as we started receiving customers, there was a comprehensive lockdown,” Rawashdeh added.

The weekend is “the pillar” of tourist restaurants’ work, noted Rawashdeh. 

“Implementing a comprehensive lockdown on the only two days that people can drive 40 minutes or so from Amman or other governorates to visit our restaurants is unforgivable. It is almost as if we are being pushed towards bankruptcy,” he added.

Nader Tamimi, manager at a local cafe chain, expressed discontentment over “the fluctuation of government decisions that have caused the sector irreplicable losses. Comprehensive closures, tight lockdown hours in the summer, closure of sitting areas and weekend comprehensive bans. Such randomness and confusion!”

“We already had a natural state of physical distancing as our cafes were almost empty. If we were lucky, we would get two or three customers a day,” Tamimi added.

The local cafe chain has been “forced to lay off hundreds of workers, most of whom are heads of families, university students and new  trainees,” noted Tamimi, adding that “this way of operating is sure enough to guarantee the collapse of the sector in a month or two.”

The government has said in its statements and press conferences that these decisions are in favour of citizens and aim at combating  the rise in number of COVID-19 cases.

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