Owners of restaurants and bars in Delhi on Tuesday expressed dismay over DDMA's decision to suspend dine-in facilities in the city and said many businesses may have to shut shop as takeaway services alone cannot cover expenses like rent and staff salaries.
Manpreet Singh, treasurer of the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI), said restaurants and bars have not yet fully recovered from the setbacks of the previous lockdowns and these fresh restrictions will only worsen things.
"Nearly 30 per cent of restaurants and bars were shut for good during the previous lockdowns and these restrictions will further push the business down. It will lead to the closure of more such establishments. Let alone covering losses, takeaway services at restaurants cannot even cover the daily expenses," Singh said.
He further added that no restaurant or bar owner can afford to pay lakhs of rupees in rent, taxes and salaries of employees unless his or her business is running at full capacity.
"It (latest restrictions) will make a big dent in the business of restaurants and bars. The authorities should reconsider this decision. Political parties are holding poll campaigns, highway dhabas are open, roadside eateries are also functioning but only restaurants and bars where all Covid protocols are followed are facing the axe," he lamented.
Singh also alleged that the Delhi government is not issuing passes to employees of restaurants engaged in-home delivery services. The DDMA on Monday ordered the closure of restaurants and bars in the city, allowing only delivery and takeaway services. The restrictions came in the wake of the steep rise in cases of Covid-19 and its Omicron variant across the city. Till Monday, restaurants were allowed to operate the dine-in facility at 50 per cent of their seating capacity from 8 am to 10 pm. Bars in the city were also permitted to open with a 50 per cent seating capacity from 12 noon to 10 pm.
Raman Bajaj, who runs a restaurant and bar in south Delhi, appealed to the DDMA to reconsider the decision and said it will "ruin" the industry and result in unemployment. Most of the restaurants and bars in Delhi follow Covid guidelines as they take care of social distancing norms, check guests' temperature and sanitise utensils, but still, they are being shut, he added.
"Many restaurants don't have the takeaway facility. Such establishments will be closed. Those providing home delivery facilities will have to cut their staff to manage expenses. Such decisions will leave many people unemployed and ruin the business," Bajaj said.
President of New Delhi Traders Association Atul Bhargava said the authorities did not consult traders before taking such a decision. "We have taken a bad hit. All our savings have gone into running the show. We have been paying taxes, rents, salaries of our employees on time but still, our establishments are being shut," he said. Bhargava claimed the government and authorities have failed to control crowds, and restaurants and other businesses have to bear the brunt.
"We want to survive and also support the government but there has to be a practical solution. On the one hand, you are saying hospital bed occupancy is low and on the other, you are shutting restaurants. This is injustice," he said.
Delhi on Monday logged 17 more deaths due to COVID-19 and 19,166 infections with a positivity rate of 25 per cent, the highest since May 4 last year, according to official data. To curb the spread of the viral disease, many restrictions including odd-even arrangements for markets, night curfew and weekend curfew have been imposed in the city.
With inputs from PTI.