Gaza restaurants struggle to survive

Gaza restaurants struggle to survive during pandemic

GAZA CITY: Imad Al-Rayyes is impatiently waiting for the month of Ramadan for his restaurant to recoup some of the massive losses suffered in the Gaza Strip over the past year. 

However, the Hamas-led government has imposed a drastic sunset-to-dawn shutdown during the holy month to combat rising infections.

Al-Rayyes is unable to meet its obligations to non-income workers, as Ramadan typically accounts for 30% of annual revenues for restaurants and cafes. Even during the shutdown, Al-Rayyes said there are still regular costs due to the failure of government agencies to provide assistance.

Local protocols have even restricted vehicle movement on Fridays and Saturdays, further impacting potential customers of the restaurant.

Many Palestinians typically eat iftar with their families in restaurants or on the beach in the spring and summer, but not during the pandemic.

Gaza has registered more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases since the first cases were reported in August. Since then, 927 deaths have been registered.

Economic losses have been devastating for the local tourism sector.

Iman Awad, vice president of the Association of Local Restaurants and Tourist Facilities, said the complete closure has particularly affected restaurants that usually rely on Ramadan for an economic boost.

Total losses in Gaza’s tourism sector are estimated at over $100 million and the workforce is now down by 20%.

There was no Ramadan on a personal level this year,” Awad said. “There was no home atmosphere, no markets.

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