By Puja Gupta
With enhanced hygiene measures and protocols in place, restaurants across the country are gearing up to re-open after being shut for 70 days due to the government mandated lockdown.
The government has issued Standard Operating Procedures for the restaurants that included reducing the seating capacity to half, ensure social distancing, necessary hygiene to contain spread of Covid-19. Restaurants and hotels are also restricted from serving of liquor.
Even though industry players welcomed the newly-issued guidelines, many are also skeptical about how does it will work for business.
A.D. Singh, founder and Managing Director of Olive Group of Restaurants, says: “The entire industry is evaluating whether it makes any sense to open our restaurants without alcohol, with reduced seating, with a city-wide 9 p.m. curfew and a reduced consumer demand owing to the pandemic.”
He adds: “Most of us will bleed heavily and we fail to see what sense it made to reopen the industry with all these conditions.”
The restaurant industry, which employs nearly 7.3 million people and is the second largest employer of human capital in India after agriculture, is among the worst-hit due to the pandemic.
Post-Covid lockdown, it is estimated that 18 per cent of single unit restaurants are likely to shut down between May and July and another 12-15 per cent of restaurants will be part of a second round of closure between September and December. It estimates that the remainder will hold out and invent new ways of conducting their businesses.
A research report called ‘Future of Food: Covid-19 Survival Plan’ by Indian Federation of Culinary Associations and Tagtaste says that based on the analysis and extrapolation of last available profit and loss statements and balance sheet, and subsequent interactions, an estimated 18 percent single-unit restaurants won’t be able to re-start their units. Chain-brands too run the risk of shutting down 12-15 percent of their restaurants by December 2020, it said.
“Over the long term, the liabilities created during the lockdown and the expected losses till things normalise will together be a load that many restaurants will not be able to bear,” SIngh had told IANSlife in a previous interview.
Asked when he expects business to be back on track, he answers: “Firstly the conditions need to be removed and restaurants and bars given a chance to normalize. Post that we expect businesses to get back on track by the end of the year.”
(Puja Gupta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)