Restaurants want to stay open for the vaccinated
As part of the government’s efforts to bring COVID-19 under control, restaurants and cafes across the country remained closed for months during the pandemic which started to grip Turkey mid-March last year.
“We do want to see the repeat of lockdowns since the industry may not deal with such an event this time round,” said Kaya Demirer, the chair of the Turkish Restaurant and Entertainment Association (TURYİD).
He proposed that only people who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines should be allowed into restaurants, cafes, indoor sports facilities, movie theaters and concerts starting Sept. 1.
It is estimated that the livelihood of some 2 million families is dependent on the eatery sector.
Demirer expressed concern over the risks from the prospect of other lockdowns as the number of infections has started to increase over the past days.
He also proposed that restaurant and café owners should be allowed to send their employees who are not fully vaccinated to unpaid leave.
“For 18 months, restaurants had been either closed or opened for limited hours and services. They paid a big price during this period,” Demirer said.
Demirer argues that such restrictions may encourage people to have their vaccinations.
TÜRES, another umbrella organization for restaurateurs, said that it was working on its own proposals.
Retailers’ associations voiced support for Demirer’s suggestions.
“If Turkey has to impose lockdowns again, no business can handle this,” said Sinan Öncel, the head of the United Brands Association.
The latest data from the Council of Shopping Centers (AYD) showed that the shopping centers revenue index declined by 31 percent from April to May when a 17-day lockdown was in force. The number of visitors to shopping centers fell nearly 23 percent on a monthly basis but leaped some 177 percent in May from a year ago.
“TURYİD has conveyed its proposals regarding the restrictions for customers and employees. Our board is looking into it. We have not yet made a decision, but they look favorably on the proposals TURYİD has made,” said Alp Önder Özpamukçu, the head of the Shopping Centers and Retailers’ Federation of Turkey.