A quarter of Turkey's restaurants may never reopen after pandemic - sector official

Turkey’s restaurant sector is among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic around 25 percent of restaurants may never reopen following the lifting of pandemic restrictions, an industry official told Cumhuriyet newspaper on Wednesday.

The country’s total of some “100,000 establishments employ an estimated two million people,’’ with 10 percent of businesses never opening after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turkish Restaurant and Entertainment Association (TURYID) chairman Kaya Demirer said, noting that his number may reach as high as 30 percent in the second wave.

Turkey in the third week of November introduced new measures and restrictions in a bid to stem the spread of the second wave of the pandemic. The measures included curfews and delivery only services restaurants, which had already been hit by a months-long clampdown including limited hours and full closure during the first wave. Meanwhile, soaring inflation has forced the population to be extra mindful of their spending.

The industry, which registered a revenue of 135 billion lira ($18.2 billion) in 2019, dropped to around 60-70 billion lira ($9.4 billion) in 2020, the industry official said.

The sector has spent “117 days in 2020 in a state of complete shutdown and during the 248 days we remained open, there were restrictions on hours,’’ the TURYID chairman added.

The industry expects for the government to delay debt payments by at least six months upon reopening while providing cash aid to businesses, he said.