Covid-19 is likely to make a severe dent in Macao’s restaurant business over Chinese New Year, legislator-cum-restaurateur Andrew Chan Chak Mo has warned.
Speaking after chairing a closed-door meeting of the legislature’s 2nd Standing Committee, Chan noted that the government has been urging community associations not to organise banquets to celebrate Chinese New Year due to the ongoing threat of Covid-19.
He added that as Zhuhai and Zhongshan are still being affected by Covid-19, Macao’s restaurant sector would be adversely affected.
Chan said residents are increasingly unwilling to hold their CNY family dinner in restaurants, and 70 to 80 per cent of banquet reservations by community associations have been cancelled.
“The restaurant industry is struggling,” said Chan, who chairs the United Association of Food and Beverage Merchants of Macau and heads Future Bright Holdings.
Chan pointed out that the city’s restaurants rely heavily on visitors. If the Zhuhai and Zhongshan authorities continue to require their residents to spend their CNY holiday there, thus barring them from travelling, Macao’s restaurant sector could expect a “poor” business performance during the CNY period, he said.
Chan also said that many restaurants have asked their employees to take unpaid leave, adding that some have not renewed the employment contracts of some of their staff, non-resident workers in particular.
Chan noted that the number of arrivals to Macao last year stood at some seven million, a huge decline from the almost 40 million in the pre-pandemic 2019, because of which, he said, Macao’s restaurant sector was expected to take a long time to recover. Consequently, Chan said, local restaurants have to change their business strategies to survive in a tough market during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Chan also said that although the restaurant sector has been affected by an increase in food costs as well as in food delivery and logistic costs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he believed that most of the business owners in the sector will not raise their prices out of fear of “losing their customers”.
Chan said that the city’s food and beverage companies would “definitely” arrange local accommodation for their non-resident staff if they were unable to return to their mainland hometowns over the holiday.
He also said that restaurants were getting used to the government’s requirement to ask their patrons to scan the contact-tracing-function QR codes, adding that most customers are willing to comply with the measure when entering catering venues, The Macau Post Daily reported.