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COVID19: Hotels, bars, cafes feel lockdown squeeze

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Limassol and Paphos hotels, bars and restaurants have sounded the alarm calling for more government support to keep coronavirus-struck businesses alive until the health crisis is over.

Following the lockdown decision, the Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed its “grave concern over the serious economic consequences that will arise as a result of the new measures.”

Virus hotspots Limassol and Paphos go into lockdown until 30 November, with a ban on travel and an 8 pm curfew.

The LCCI said businesses, “have already paid a high price since the beginning of the pandemic”.

The Cyprus Hotel Association (CHA) said although the restrictions will be painful for the suffering tourism industry, “measures were necessary to combat the invisible enemy threatening to destroy the economy and our lives”.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, Director General of the CHA Philokypros Rousounides, said they expect government measures to support the hotel industry which has essentially thrown in the towel for 2020.

“The new measures essentially bring about the end of the tourist season, not only for the districts put on lockdown but the whole island.

“It will be difficult for someone to decide to come for a late holiday, at a time when Cyprus has started implementing lockdowns,” said Rousounides.

He said the CHA is concentrating its efforts on convincing authorities to come up with a fixed safe travel list, in an attempt to save 2021.

“We need to have a fixed travel list which we can communicate with our partners at tour operators and airlines. It would be catastrophic if we delay issuing such a fixed set of travel regulations during the coronavirus pandemic, as we will not be able to campaign for 2021,” said Rousounides.

Leisure and entertainment establishments are trying to keep level-headed but at the same time are firing at authorities.

Phanos Leventis, head of the Leisure and Entertainment Establishment Owners Association, told the Financial Mirror that measures imposed were inevitable but criticised the government for getting it wrong three weeks ago when they introduced a late curfew on restaurants and bars to close at 10.30 pm.

“Unfortunately, the authorities did not listen to us and targeted businesses which had very little to do with the latest outbreak. With the exception of one coffee shop, no other clusters were formed in restaurants or bars,” argued Leventis.

He said that in targeting restaurants and bars, health authorities missed tracing clusters forming in other places.

“The fact that they are imposing a lockdown on Limassol and Paphos is an indirect admission that they got it wrong three weeks earlier.”

Asked whether restaurants and bars would have preferred to see a lockdown imposed earlier, Leventis said they would not have opposed such a measure, as the year is already a write-off.

“What is important for us, is that when we do reopen, we do so without any restrictive measures. The majority of establishments cannot operate with measures like one customer to every three-square metre. They are just not viable,” said Leventis.

Meanwhile, the church seems to be on the same page with the government regarding measures imposed which include a ban on people attending church.

“It would be sad if, at Christmas, people were locked in their homes.

It is a difficult period for our church, and our people are feeling the pain and sorrow,” said Limassol Bishop Athanasios calling on churchgoers to be patient.