The State government’s decision to restrict the number of people visiting malls, entertainment parks, cinema halls and amusement parks from Saturday to control the spread of COVID-19 has dampened the spirits of businessmen whose balance-sheets had just started showing positive signs after the lifting of the lockdown.
Those representing the mall sector said from January, business had started bouncing back in most malls and until February, business was good (compared to the pre-COVID-19 levels). But since March, footfalls had started dwindling.
“Many retailers have already cut down on the number of outlets and have even curtailed expansion plans,” said a retailer. Some retailers are confused as to how they will ensure 50% occupancy as a mall is a large space and there is no one to keep count of people.
M. Ravi, president of the Chennai Hotels’ Association and chairman of Vasanta Bhavan Hotels India Pvt. Ltd, said the industry was ready to cooperate but the government should also understand the problems hoteliers had to face. He lamented that over 2,000 small, medium and big restaurants had wound up and restrictions would further hamper their operations.
He suggested that instead of the new restrictions, the government could roll out vaccines for all working people.
“The government should also support us by reducing tax, and giving industry people time to repay loans that they have taken. Many hotels have just pumped in money to revive businesses,” Mr. Ravi said.
Theme park operators said they already had all SOPs in place from the time they resumed operations. “This is a seasonal industry and we get maximum footfall in March, April and May. Last year, we were under lockdown and businesses were wiped off. This year too seems bleak,” said V.G.P. Ravidas, managing director, VGP Universal Kingdom.
According to the Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industries, there are 150 parks, and they projected a revenue loss of over ₹1,100 crore in 2020.
Multiplexes and stand-alone theatres that were gearing up for the release of the Dhanush-starrer Karnan have had to realign ticketing and other plans after news of 50% occupancy was intimated.
Some theatres said they had already sold tickets fully for April 10 and 11, and it would irk fans if they cancelled them now. They are considering approaching the government to run shows this weekend for tickets they have already sold.