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Updated on May 21, 2020 From The Irrawaddy

Hotels to Slash Wages in Myanmar’s Capital Because of COVID-19 Closures

Naypyitaw — Almost all hotels in Naypyitaw’s hotel zone have had to suspend operations due to COVID-19 since March and many are preparing to slash salaries this month.

Thirty-six hotels in the hotel zone were operating with a steady income before the first cases of COVID-19 in Myanmar. They have between 100 and 300 employees, depending on their size and number of stars.

Hotels suspended operations in the second week of March but managed to pay full salaries for March and April. But May salaries will be reduced from 30 to 50 percent, chairman of Naypyitaw Hotelier Association U Kyaw Min Tun told reporters at an event where hotels provided basic food for their employees on Saturday.

He said no staff had been sacked and some hotels are providing food and accommodation for their staff.

Some hotels had been forced to apply for COVID-19 loans from the government to pay employees, U Kyaw Min Tun said, as the government had set up a 100 billion kyats (US$71 million) fund to loan businesses that were badly hit by COVID-19.

“Most of the hotels granted paid leave for employees until the end of April. But as the crisis is not yet over, hoteliers have difficulties,” said Naypyitaw Tungapuri Hotel director Daw Nan Sam Kham.

“Some hotels were already struggling and even our hotel, which is operating normally, is facing difficulties,” she added.

Various staff have been asked to stay inside their hotel compounds to prevent the spread of coronavirus, while others have returned to their homes, the hotels announced.

Some hotels have started to receive guests who want to stay in hotels for their COVID-19 quarantine, said U Kyaw Min Tun.

“Every hotel has a restaurant and chefs. Some are selling takeaways to help pay wages,” said U Kyaw Min Tun.

There were no instructions from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism for hotels in Naypyitaw to close. Several hotels have closed while others have remained open to offer rooms to long-term guests.

The zone is divided into two sections, with the second only containing hotels that have not been constructed.

Many of Naypyitaw’s hotels have reported losses for years with declining numbers of visitors since 2013 when Myanmar hosted the SEA Games in Naypyitaw. Numbers have further declined since Myanmar’s role as Asean chair ended in 2015.

Some hotels rely on events organized by government agencies and non-governmental organizations, which have been canceled because of COVID-19.

As of Wednesday morning, Myanmar has reported 193 COVID-19 cases with six deaths and 104 recoveries.

IMAGE: A Naypyitaw hotel in 2019. / Kyaw Myo / The Irrawaddy
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