RESTAURANT operators in Cebu look to resuming dine-in operations at a limited capacity in general community quarantine areas as they seek to recover the losses incurred during the economic lockdown.

The Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (Hrrac) has welcomed the plan of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ease restrictions on the restaurant industry.

Historically, restaurants and other fastfood places earn about 80 to 90 percent of their revenues from dine-in eaters.

“Pre-Covid, dine-in accounted for 80 to 90 percent of our revenue so, yes, it would be a big help to restaurants especially for casual dining and fine dining,” Brian Noel, Hrrac vice president for restaurants, said of restarting to business in the new normal era.

Hrrac’s five restaurant members or 20 percent of its total have remained opened while 80 percent temporarily closed during the lockdown.

However, Noel said the resumption should be studied carefully and should be done at the right time to prevent more transmission.

“It should be done at the right time though, when the number of cases are significantly and continuously going down, to prevent a second wave that would cause even more damage,” Noel, who manages Casa Verde, told SunStar Cebu.

Restaurants have been struggling for weeks now since the government banned dine-in operations to avoid mass gathering to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease.

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez in a Senate meeting earlier said the agency is looking into allowing restaurants to have limited dine-in operations to help food businesses recover.

Health authorities are looking at allowing a 50 percent dine-in capacity for restaurants to heed social distancing measures, Lopez said.

The restaurant industry has reported huge losses as they have maintained delivery and take-out options only to continue partial operations during the quarantine period.

Most of the micro, small and medium businesses belong to the food industry, which has seen falling demand as people shift consumption to only essential items.

Noel expects less foot traffic once restaurants resume operations especially if dine-in options are not allowed.

Restaurants would also be incurring additional operating costs such as providing personal protective equipment and sanitation measures.