The restriction has added woes to cab operators, hotels, and restaurants, already affected by lockdown
The weekend closure of places of worship has hit the hospitality industry hard in Tiruchi.
In order to check the spread of COVID-19 during Aadi, a Tamil month that usually attracts hundreds of devotees, mainly women, to Amman and Murugan temples, the State government had initially announced the closure of important temples for a few days in August. It was expected that the restriction would be in place only during the month of Aadi. But the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department subsequently announced that devotees would not be allowed in major temples for three days a week from Friday to Sunday until further orders. Churches and mosques also follow the restriction.
The restrictions are in force for more than two months now. Besides all churches and mosques, most of the leading temples in Tiruchi, including Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, Mariamman Temple in Samayapuram, Thayumanaswamy Temple near Teppakulam, have been closed for the public from Friday to Sunday. The restriction has added woes to cab operators, hotels, and restaurants, which had already been hit hard due to the pandemic-induced lockdown.
According to sources in the hospitality industry, most hotels and restaurants do good business mainly on weekends, holidays and marriage days. They depend on business travellers on weekdays. Closure of places of worship on weekends has brought down the movement of pilgrims to Tiruchi, which has a number of ancient temples. While many hotels in Tiruchi report just 30% to 40% occupancy on weekends, the business in restaurants has been hit by more than 50%.
The cab operators have been severely affected. “Most of the taxis and cabs remain idle since the imposition of the lockdown in March 2020. We receive hardly any booking on weekends. The impact is unimaginable,” says G. K. V. Raju of Ganesh Travels in Srirangam.
S. A. Mubashir, vice-president, Tiruchi Tourism Federation, said that most of the hotels and restaurants are yet to resume their operations fully due to national and international travel restrictions. None of the hotels had re-employed their staff strength fully. The weekend closure had only compounded their problems.
Stating that the hospitality industry was the most affected due to the pandemic, he said that the weekend closure must be revoked immediately. Instead, the State government should find alternative steps to avoid crowding.
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