Ninety thousand restaurants have closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and about 30,000 more could follow, according to the vice president of the national restaurant association Canirac.
Germán Gonzélez said Tuesday that the pandemic and associated restrictions could force the closure of a total of 122,000 restaurants.
Speaking at a press conference to promote an upcoming food expo, Gonzélez said that about 17,000 restaurants in the greater Mexico City metropolitan area have not reopened after being forced to close in March.
He said that a census last year found that there were about 600,000 restaurants in the country, 96% of which are small businesses such as family-run fondas (informal diners) and taquerías (taco restaurants). That means that the coronavirus pandemic has shut down 15% of all eateries across Mexico.
Gonzélez said that restaurant industry revenue has fallen 100 billion pesos (US $4.5 billion) in 2020, explaining that restaurants that are currently open have seen their income drop by an average of 60% compared to last year.
Authorities began allowing restaurants to reopen to sit-down customers in June but their capacity has been limited to 30% to 50% of normal levels in most states.
With fewer diners and lower revenue as a result, many restaurant owners have had to dip into their savings in order to continue operating, Gonzélez said.
“That’s difficult to maintain for long periods,” he added.
While restaurant owners are reaching into their own pockets to keep their existing establishments open, they have little money to invest in new eateries, Gonzélez said.
“If a company has to put up money every day to stay open, creating new investment projects is difficult,” he said.
The coronavirus pandemic has also ravaged Mexico’s normally lucrative tourism sector. Average hotel occupancy across the country is currently below 25% whereas at the same time last year it was between 60% and 70%, according to Luis Barrios, CEO of the City Express hotel chain.
Tourism revenue remains well below 2019 levels although passenger numbers at the Mexico City airport are slowly recovering.
As a result of the sharp decline in tourism income, “investment in new hotels is minimal and projects that are half completed have been postponed,” Barrios said, explaining that the hotel industry is focused on keeping existing properties open and has “no resources left over.”
Source: Reforma (sp)