Several restaurants and hotels will not be opening doors after crisis

Empty restaurant (picture is illustrative).
Empty restaurant (picture is illustrative). Source: Pxfuel free

Restaurants are longing for the emergency situation in Estonia to end as the weather keeps getting warmer but will be diligent in observing crisis measures until such time. However, several restaurants and hotels will not be reopening after the crisis.

Executive Manager of the Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association Maarika Liivamägi said that several restaurants have asked the association about current Health Board and Veterinary and Food Board restrictions. "All our members are keen to comply with measures and rules at this time," she said.

The government has extended Estonia's emergency situation, while more and more restaurants are planning to open doors to clients as the weather gets warmer. "The activities of hotels and restaurants have not been official curtailed, many are offering takeaway and food delivery," Liivamägi said.

She said that several restaurants have positioned their tables to comply with the 2+2 rule. That said, the association hopes measures will be sensible as it is impossible to require patrons to wear protective masks in a restaurant.

"Entrepreneurs are trying to understand their options in the emergency situation. The expectations and habits of consumers have also changed over the past six weeks," Liivamägi said.

"If emergency measures are extended again and should they remain in place throughout May and June, it will have a very direct effect on enterprise and the longer the emergency lasts, the longer it will take for the economy to recover."

Some hotels have remained open in the emergency situation and offer clients an alternative to working from home as well as facilitating quarantine for front line operatives. Mid-April and early May is usually when the hotel season starts, while several hotels have already decided to keep their doors closed until the start of June.

Liivamägi said there will be restaurants and hotels that will never open again, while it is impossible to forecast how many there will be at this time.

Hotels and restaurants are still waiting for the government to provide them aid. The executive manager of the association said that as the tourism sector took the first hit in this crisis, it will need state aid the longest.

"The government's support measures are very important right now, while they are also short-lived. Salary benefits, which is another important step that was taken in a timely manner, will also run out at the end of May," she added.

Head of Forum: Hotel service to change along with restrictions

A situation where all hotels are closed and will open at the same time, with new restrictions in place has never occurred before," general manager of the Nordic Hotel Forum Feliks Mägus said on the "Vikerhommik" radio program.

He added that recovery will be very long and new requrements and measures that are sure to be laid down will not make the situation any easier.

"It is a fact that restrictions will cause economic problems, but the strong will survive," he added.

Changes will also affect conference tourism as major gatherings will not be allowed for some time - conference premises today are not meant to allow people to keep distance.

"We can see today to what extent meetings and conferences have moved to the cyberspace. This trend is here to stay. Yes, it is possible conference centers will have to be redesigned to some extent," Mägus said.

Layoffs inevitable

The near future is not looking bright in the hotel business and Nordic Hotel Forum is also making preparations for layoffs.

"All experts are saying that tourism took the heaviest hit and will therefore recover the longest. Decisions are needed in this situation and we need to make do with more modest resources. We will be laying off a considerable part of our staff in the near future. On the one hand, to save as many jobs as possible and on the other, to make sure the employer is sustainable," Mägus said.

The hotel manager said that recovery will be nowhere in sight come fall. "My colleagues talk to clients every day and we are receiving some bookings for fall and next year. But looking at the near future, there will mainly be cancellations."


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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