AMMAN — The Greater Amman Municipality has decided to exempt tourist restaurants from a 50 per cent of entertainment fees, and owners who have already paid the fees for this year will be compensated upon renewal.

During a remote session held recently and chaired by the Mayor of Amman Yousef Shawarbeh, the municipality’s council decided to exempt tourist restaurants from the public entertainment fees by 50 per cent for the year 2020 and 25 per cent for the year 2021, according to a municipality statement.

The restaurant and cafes sector has recently resumed dine-in services after a two-week ban that cost the sector more than JD20 million, according to President of Restaurant Owners Association Omar Awwad.

He said at the time that it was an “unfair” decision to target the dine-in services while allowing hospital waiting areas and malls to remain open.

“This is a gesture by the government but I am afraid it is a small one as these fees are only paid by tourist restaurants, not the whole sector,” Awwad told The Jordan Times on Monday.

He said that the sector “would be better served if some of the more serious fees, such as income tax or operational tax, were reduced”.

“These are the heavy-hitting taxes that affect the whole sector, not only tourist restaurants,” he added.

Ahmad Rakan, a worker at a tourist restaurant in Jabal Amman, said that his restaurant “will not be open enough to pay the fee next year if this situation continues”.

Rakan noted that even though restaurants were allowed to reopen their halls as of last Thursday, his restaurant still has not gotten approval from the Ministry of Tourism.

“Every category of restaurants was supposed to sign a pledge and request permission from the authority that oversees their category, which in this case is the Ministry of Tourism. However, the ministry has still not checked if our restaurant meets their requirements so they can give us permission to reopen,” he noted.

Despite several attempts to contact the Ministry of Tourism for comment, The Jordan Times received no response.

Other restaurants expressed their gratitude towards the move, with Ali Hawamdeh, an owner of a small tourist restaurant in Petra, saying that “any gesture is welcome,” in a Facebook comment on the exemption news.

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