The Coronavirus has already had a devastating impact on many industries, and the restaurant trade is one of the greatest sufferers. The most obvious issue is that restaurants, along with other social venues, were ordered to close back in March, to help slow the spread of the virus, and this immediately impacted revenue. However, other issues such as site restaurant visits falling will mean less visibility, and the hope of recovery is looking smaller and smaller for those businesses reliant on their online presence to get people through the door.
Both the Hungarian Tourism Agency as well as Finance Minister Mihály Varga have commented on the negative impact of the Coronavirus on the tourism and hospitality sectors and are predicting doom and gloom for many months, if not years to come.
Lockdown means that people who would usually come to dine in Hungarian restaurants have been confined to their homes. Restaurants that typically expect to be packed out have suddenly been left with empty tables and thousands of pounds worth of stock that will remain unused and eventually have to be discarded. Some have been allowed to stay open for takeaway services. However, those not equipped to do so have been left in the lurch. With social distancing and individuals asked not to leave their homes more than once a day, combined with people tightening their belts, the takeaway option has not proven particularly popular regardless.
One of the main issues that Hungary faces is that many restaurants, particularly in the capital, depend heavily on tourism. Even if the lockdown is lifted in Hungary, the travel ban is still in place in countries all over the world, and this means that far fewer people will visit, and so many restaurants will not survive.
While some tourists remain in Hungary, the coronavirus pandemic has already massively taken its toll, and the hotel industry has seen almost half of all reservations canceled.
Flights to and from the area are being canceled daily, and the lack of tourism, particularly during the usually bustling summer months will have a significant impact on trade. Initially, governments decided that restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs could only open between 6 am and 3 pm. This alone had a massive impact on smaller restaurants who had to shut their doors almost immediately due to the significant decline in business. Since stricter lockdown measures were then introduced, the effect has spread with more and more once thriving and bustling restaurants having to close their doors for good.
This doesn’t just affect restaurant owners, of course. The impact of multiple restaurants closing down affects the lives and livelihoods of many more. Those who work in the service industry now find themselves without an income. Service providers who cater to the restaurant industry also see that without orders coming in, their profits plummet. Business owners may no longer be able to afford rent, leaving many premises vacated, with no new businesses in the current economic climate coming forward to fill the space.
Minister of Finance Mihály Varga suggested that those restaurants which manage to break even by the end of the year will be in much better shape than most. He acknowledged that this industry would be one of the hardest hit and said that measures would be put in place to assist failing businesses where possible.
Even when lockdown measures are lessened, it will, unfortunately, take a much longer time for the effects of COVID-19 to dissipate. If social distancing measures are to remain in place, restaurants who can open their doors once more won’t be able to take as many sittings. They will have to remove tables to ensure that they meet the spacing requirements necessary to keep the Coronavirus at bay.
Until borders are reopened, and lockdown measures lifted, the state of the restaurant industry in Hungary is, unfortunately, a sorry looking one, and the longer this continues, the harder hit they will be. However, some can adjust their services to offer takeaway, and others will hopefully survive the storm and slowly but surely get back on track as the recovery of the effects from COVID-19 slowly spreads throughout the globe.