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Tough time for restaurants in Delhi, say Owners

Friday, April 16, 2021, 15:31 Hrs  [IST]

According to HT, New Delhi The government’s order disallowing dine-in services in all restaurants in the city, and allowing only deliveries, will devastate an already ailing industry, owners of several eateries in the national capital said on Thursday, citing the impact of last year’s nationwide lockdown and subsequent restrictions such as the night curfew.

Some stakeholders also contended that the industry will have to overhaul its processes within days to focus solely on deliveries.

SN Kaushal, senior manager of Kwality restaurant, Connaught Place, said a number of things, including staff rosters and salary disbursement, will need to be altered to adjust to the new curbs.

“When we started deliveries in June, we could barely make a fraction of the previous sales. Running the restaurant comes with costs, and we will have to shell out to divert all our resources to focus on deliveries. There will be a massive burden on resources due to the shift,” he said, adding that arranging e-passes for his staff was already proving cumbersome.

Experts, however, pointed out that restaurants are particularly dangerous in terms of virus spread.

Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital, said that in the current situation, curbs on indoor sitting were necessary to stop the transmission of infection. “Indoor sitting creates a problem. People take off their masks to talk and eat, which increases the chances of transmission,” Kishore said.

Restaurant owners maintained that the hit to their business would be hard.

Saurabh Suman, manager of Pebble Street in New Friends Colony, said the restaurant’s sales dropped around 70% since the night curfew was imposed on April 6, and feared the latest order will increase losses.

“Due to the surge in cases, only a handful of people were stepping out. Our business will nosedive with the closure of dine-in services. We foresee that sales will drop by 90%,” he said.

He said the restaurant-cum-bar will adjust service staff into the delivery chain to keep the business running. “We will rotate service staff and use their services for deliveries. Our plan is to use their services in different capacities so we don’t arrive in a situation where we have to let go of people. Our sales have already taken a big hit, but we will have to abide by the orders,” Suman said.

Ramesh Kitchloo, founder of Samavar restaurant in Pamposh Enclave, said Thursday’s orders will be the death knell for the industry. “Lakhs have assembled for the Kumbh Mela. Is there no Covid-19 at Kumbh, or in Kolkata where huge [election] rallies are being held? The government has no objections to such gatherings but restaurants that are barely making ends meet are being punished despite complying with rules. This is a massive disaster,” said Kitchloo.

Manpreet Singh, treasurer of the National Restaurants Association of India, which is a representative body with more than 5,000 members across the country, said the new measure was a blow. “It is unjust for governments to crack down on restaurants every time there is a Covid-19 surge but not impose any restrictions on political rallies and religious congregations,” said Singh, adding there was no relaxation in the rent and other duties and fees that restaurants were paying to the government and civic agencies.

A senior government official said curbs were necessary to break the chain of transmission, and that restrictions were inevitable due to the surge in cases.

Source: HT

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