Over 200,000 Jobs Could Be Lost Due to Dine-In Restrictions

More than 200,000 workers are expected to lose their jobs to new measures prohibiting dining-in at restaurants that the government recently imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Restaurant Business Association said.

Under the new restrictions, dine-in services were banned in six provinces as of May 1.

The provinces are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan. According to Ladda Sampawthong, the association’s president, the new restrictions would have a huge impact on medium and large restaurants as the target areas have many of those outlets.

She spoke about the situation of restaurants that see a reduced number of customers.

“Since the government reduced service hours to closing at 9pm, dine-in customers at restaurants are 65-70% of normal levels. However, with a ban on sit-in dining, I wonder how many will still want to come,” Mrs. Ladda said.

She stated that clients were more scared of the new wave of the pandemic compared to previous outbreaks due to the soaring numbers of cases.

During previous waves, customers ordered food through delivery or takeaway services. However, people have been changing their behavior during the latest resurgence of cases, Mrs. Ladda explained.

Besides, more and more people choose to cook at home, which also results in fewer restaurant orders.

Around 55,000 restaurants are association members, and about 80% of them offer delivery services. Additionally, Mrs. Ladda predicted that 200,000 restaurant workers could lose their jobs, both in the short and long term, because the pandemic requires time to improve.

“This new restriction on restaurants has been enforced too soon,” she said.

“We understand the purpose is to stop the virus spread and are willing to follow it, but our main concern is the employees,” she added. According to reports, 2% of restaurants nationwide have closed permanently due to previous outbreaks.

Mrs. Ladda predicted that the third wave would add another 1-1.5 percentage points to the closing rate.

However, some owners are entering the restaurant segment despite the pandemic. In Chiang Mai, representatives of the Chiang Mai Restaurant and Entertainment Venue Association called on the government to reconsider the order to close dine-in services, claiming that it would seriously affect more than 80,000 workers.

Besides, the Kasikorn Research Center said that the food business in 2021 is valued at 410-415 billion baht if the government does not enact a lockdown.

Last year, the sector generated 405 billion baht, which is 6% less than in 2019.