Many restaurants are finding it hard to reopen though Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions have been lifted around the country.
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Only 10-20 percent of eateries have resumed business but “have been mostly empty,” Dominic Vu, chairman of the Alliance for Small and Medium Enterprises, said.
Dominic Vu blamed the wariness to reopen on high costs and inconsistencies in epidemic prevention policies.
“These factors make business owners cautious.”
Ly Nhat Hieu, owner of three upmarket restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, spelled out the widespread dilemma: “If you don’t open businesses will shrink, but if you open businesses may record losses.”
“The rent, though halved, is still more than VND300 million ($12,930) a month. With maintenance, the total cost can hit nearly VND2 billion a month”.
But reopening is not easy with the problem of finding workers too being dire, he said.
“A number of employees went back to their hometown. It is not easy for people to return to the city right now”.
It is very hard to find replacements, especially for skilled people such as chefs and kitchen assistants, he said.
“When the restaurant was still closed, the landlord reduced the rent. But now that it has reopened, there is no reason for him to do so”.
Meanwhile, demand is still limited since there are no tourists, workers have not returned and people tend to tighten their purse strings amid the economic downturn.
HCMC has allowed eateries to resume delivery services from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., every day, starting Sept. 8, after suspending them for nearly two months.