SHENYANG. — Huo Chunlei, who runs a hotpot restaurant in Shenyang, capital of northeast China’s Liaoning Province, said he did not lay off any of his staff, although the restaurant is having difficulties for reopening after two months of closure in China’s nationwide measures of coronavirus control.
A few weeks after Chinese provincial-regions with low risk of the novel coronavirus gradually resumed work and production, shops and eateries have reopened, and roads become bustling again, as hundreds of millions of people confined at home for weeks in compliance with epidemic prevention rules get back to a normal life.
Huo’s restaurant has been in operation for a week. Only half of the tables are filled at dinnertime. The revenue is barely enough to cover the expenses of the house rent and employee wages, he said.
However, he said his business is able to survive because of the government’s bailout policies. For example, the approval of deferred payment of social insurance premiums for his employees alone can save him 80,000 yuan (about 11,250 U.S. dollars) a month.
“The staff are willing to stay, as we are all confident in tiding over the difficulties together,” he said.
The local governments at all levels have rolled out a slew of measures to shore up the catering business, including cutting taxes, reducing house rent as well as water and electricity fees.
The governments in Liaoning, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces have issued coupons with a value ranging from 10 million yuan to 100 million yuan to encourage people to spend on dining out.
Before the production resumption, there were some consumer councils’ surveys showing that consumers had suppressed consumption desire for dining out and shopping as well as going to movie theatres, gymnasiums and tourist spots after the epidemic crisis ends.
“The so-called retaliatory consumption has not yet appeared in the catering industry, as people are still wary about the infection risk, but there will be a gradual recovery growth,” said Chen Heng, executive director of Hainan Hotel and Catering Industry Association in the southernmost Chinese province of Hainan.
“Before reopening, we increased the distances between tables, but with reduced tables, there are still many empty tables at dinner time. My restaurant used to have all seats full and even queues,” said Huo.
Like Huo, Lin Lunheng, founder of the Fuzhou Super Dinner Co. Ltd. in southeast China’s Fujian Province, is also worried about business.
“Although the chain stores have reopened, revenues have decreased by 70 percent compared with that before the epidemic. This is a big blow to restaurants,” said Lin.
The Italian style chain restaurant has offered e-coupons to draw customers.
As the spring weather is getting more and more pleasant, consumers’ desire for dining out and travel is growing.
According to a survey report jointly released by the China Travel Academy and Trip.com Group on March 19, Chinese are longing for tours across the country, with Yunnan, Hainan and Shanghai among the top destinations. — Xinhua.