Many cafés will go bankrupt after Ramadan: RAM

The Restaurant Association of Maldives (RAM) at an Economic Committee meeting | Photo: Majlis

Malé, Maldives – The Restaurant Association of Maldives (RAM) has stated that due to various restrictions imposed by the government in light of Covid-19, an estimated 40% of cafés and restaurants will go bankrupt after Ramadan.

This was revealed during an economic committee meeting held at the request of Hoarafushi MP Ahmed Saleem, who submitted a complaint to Parliament asking to bring a solution to various issues faced by cafés and restaurants.

RAM Member Hussain Ismail said at the meeting that with current covid-19 restrictions, small and medium enterprises are not operating at a profit. He noted that such establishments are currently unable to pay water bills, electricity bills, rent and employee wages.

He added that continuing with current restrictions will result in many lost opportunities for young business owners, and cause some businesses operated at home to go bankrupt as well.

RAM noted that 90% of businesses in Maldives are small and medium enterprises, these include numerous individuals that prepare food at home and sell these items through cafés.

“Companies such as MWSC [Male’ Water and Sewerage Company] and STELCO come with bills without any notice. They come with a list to disconnect water and electricity. This is the gravity of the situation, how do we pay these bills?” said RAM member Hussain.

He went on to request subsidies like the ones given to those in the tourism I]industry to be given, adding that the state must provide assistance to café and restaurant owners.

RAM Vice President Mohamed Shujau stated at the committee meeting revealed that there are different peak times for different food providers, and that for cafés and restaurants, the peak times are at night. He also requested to establish policies that would allow for services to continue with safety precautions.

Although previous regulations for Malé area set forth by HPA mandated that cafés and restaurants close dine-in by 20:00, authorities now allow dine-in until 22:30.

Regarding the same issue, Health Protection Agency’s Director General Maimoona Abookbakura was previously questioned by the economic committee. She stated that café / restaurant and similar establishments are hotspots for disease spread. And that the risk of disease spread is much greater in these places when compared to shops, as most people do not wear masks not practise social distancing.