More than 17000 people tested positive for Covid 19 in Delhi on Wednesday, marking the highest single-day spike ever since the pandemic broke out. Delhi's fourth wave is proving to be even more challenging to contain since there are multiple strains of virus identified among those infected. In the wake of the situation, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced the weekend curfew. Shopping malls, auditoriums, restaurants, spas and gyms will remain shut over the weekend. Theatres will be allowed to screen movies with only 30% capacity. People will not be allowed to dine in at restaurants and only home deliveries are permitted. While Delhi CM has confirmed that the curfew is only for this weekend, restaurants across the city are plagued by fear of another lockdown and their chances of staying in business.
Mr Anurag Katriar, President of The National Restaurant Authority Of India or the NRAI, said, "The decision by the Delhi Government to impose a weekend lockdown and weekday night curfew is a direct result of the growing caseload and perhaps the advent of the second surge of COVID. Unfortunately, this brings us to square one; the same place we were standing aimlessly a year ago at the peak of the pandemic. Once again, our restaurants are relegated to being delivery kitchens, a sense of pessimism has replaced our short-lived optimism and we are once again back at fighting for our mere survival."
Operating within the prescribed hours of home delivery is also not a sustainable model, Anurag added. "We request the government to allow round-the-clock home delivery of food in lines with what Mumbai has done," Anurag suggested.
Noted restaurateur Riyaz Amlani who is the face behind SOCIAL, antiSOCIAL, Smoke House Deli, Salt Water Cafe, Prithvi Cafe and Mocha said, "While we understand that the government has imposed the curfew keeping in mind public safety and rising numbers, this will probably be the final nail in the coffin for the F&B industry. A major chunk of our business happens during the weekends, and now with these new restrictions, that has been hit hard. We urge the government to increase vaccination drives so that more people can get vaccinated. We would also sincerely urge customers to order directly from restaurants rather than aggregator apps to help us tide through what is once again going to be a hard time for us."
"Delivery and cloud kitchens will in no way, shape, or form help restaurants survive another lockdown. We've had a gun pointed at our heads and expensive license and taxes have been paid, and yet we've been forced into a lockdown once again. It's about time the government starts giving this industry the relief that it so badly needs. They also need to tell us how they intend to vaccinate our front line workers like delivery staff in order to provide essential services like food delivery" the MD & CEO, Impresario Handmade Restaurants added.
After managing logistics and vendor commission, takeaways and home deliveries do not end up being quite as profitable for restaurants. This is why many restaurants are urging customers to order directly from them.
Aavika Chhawwchharia (Co- Founder), Honey & Dough also supported the government decision but also urged for more attention towards the F&B sector "Such measures have to be taken, but it adds up to a lot of confusion in terms of operation, planning, sales and other tasks. It is really difficult to manage and get through the situation, when anyway the sales are down due to COVID. Weekends are the time where we have the most sales, and when weekends are shut it highly impacts the business", she said emphasising on the importance of long-term planning.
The weekend curfew in Delhi will take place from 10 PM on Friday and will be lifted post 5 AM on Monday. The government has urged people to not violate the rules and go through the dos and don'ts thoroughly.
About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.