Intrinsically, we as humans have the biggest fear of death. Either it’s ours or our loved ones. Then, comes our society at large as a big familia. Restaurant industry is the third home for today’s consumers. Post home and office, they enjoy going to cultural places and restaurants and bars become the best places for them to elevate their relationships and moods.
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COVID-19 has now become a global pandemic and requires cognizance of our social responsibility. This perhaps is the first experience for many in decades. “I am happy that awareness of protective best practices has spread faster than ever through technology. Whatsapp has been the best route. Hospitality saw a dip of 30% in the first week (towards first week of March), followed by a 80% drop in businesses by the second week,” shared Pravesh Pandey of Byg Brewski who added while there was an utter confusion between authorities in giving directives for closure, NRAI took a collaborative decision at a national scale to shut down all our restaurants, bars, pubs, and cafes. This is not a mandate but a voluntarily action taken by NRAI. “Nothing is more worth than the life of our employees, vendors and patrons,” he added.
Commenting on the same Arpan Gupta, Founder and Director, Detroit Garage Bar and Kitchen & Anglow shared, “Restaurants are one of the highest prone areas for getting infected due to dealing with large number of customers on a daily basis. No restauranteur would like to be responsible for any of their employees getting infected. It is also practically impossible to profile customers on the basis of their nationality and not letting them in to have food.”
Parallel, a representation is being made to the finance ministry by the restaurateur to help the industry with exempted GST , excise and other taxes. Also restaurant owners are suggested to pass moratorium to their independent banks and landlords to have shown the force majeure clause to avoid financial stress.
“The situation around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is deeply concerning to all of us as part of larger humanity before being citizens of any nation. The responsibility on each of us as citizens of mankind now is at utmost peak and the decision to impose social exile on oneself is the first and most important step to stop the spread of this virus. The decision to keep all our places shut till the situation is controlled, was voluntary and was not an easy decision to make but it is an effort to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus,” said Ashish Mehta, Co-founder & Director, Oheka, Bombay Cocktail Bar, February 30 and Blanco.
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The sooner everyone do this, the sooner we as humanity will get through it, believed the restaurateurs. The setback on business which is a perceived notion by closure of bars and lounges is meagre, in the interest of safety of their staff, loyal customers and their partners. Restaurant owners as a responsible individuals by practicing basics, recommended by doctors and professionals like maintaining hygiene, imposing social exile and being cautious in our day to day affairs can defeat COVID-19.
“We all, as all other humans of the world are deeply saddened at the current situation; it is not science to know that all businesses are taking a major hit - aviation, tourism & hospitality probably most of all. We support the state government in all their decisions & are in unison of all actions to ensure all our guests are safe & healthy - this is our #1 priority,” pointed Hitesh Keswani of Silver Beach Hospitality who added that needless to say, it is financially a very tough one for us in the business of hospitality but we have decided to stay thick together & fight this out, while we pray that the situation only gets better & not tougher & world soon bounces back to its full potential.
Commenting on the same, Prahlad Sukhtankar of The Black Sheep Bistro shared, “ In Goa, so far there haven’t been any positive cases of covid19 yet as a precautionary step, the major gathering hubs like casinos, nightclubs, spas, gyms and public gatherings etc have been temporarily shut down by authorities. Restaurants (because most of them come under small businesses with little mass gathering) are currently not part of the shut down until further notice. We expect there may come an announcement for restaurants as well in the near future. So at both our restaurants we have proactively limited the intake to just 50% of capacity. When seating we maintain a gap of at least 1 empty table between any 2 tables to make guests feel more comfortable and we do not accept large parties anymore until this situation becomes more manageable.”
Though, all this has affected business and they may have to take some drastic measures to survive.
“WHO has clearly stated that it’s a pandemic and since it’s a very easily spreadable virus and for the safety of our staff members and our guests closures have to happen,” said Inderjeet Singh Banga of Pirates of Grill and Prankster fame. “The government directive also clearly states that dance floors can’t be operated and no gatherings of more than 50 allowed. In large restaurants staff strength is more than 50 alone hence we need to close down till situation is under control,” he added further.
Not only this, top hotels in the country are also coming ahead to support government and its decision during this time. Hotels like The manor, Ibis, Lemon Tree are working closely with government to combat corona fever. “The government has taken drastic measures to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and they should be commended for acting swiftly, but undoubtedly economically the biggest brunt of these efforts have been felt by the hospitality industry,” said Neil Kapoor, owner The Manor Hotel by adding today we remain open out of professional pride and responsibility to our community. Business is off 80% with our hotel running empty many nights. We are remaining open so that stranded passengers already booked are not further inconvenienced and to do our part for those needing to step out for a meal from a trusted place within the community.
Thus, we can just hope that the government will act just as swiftly to support the industry after this situation subsides.