Even as the restaurants, hotels and malls are set to open from June 8 as per the recent guidelines issued by the government, owners of commercial establishments remain wary.
Sources said that a mall management has issued bills to store owners to pay the rent for April and May. Meanwhile, store owners fear that after opening up on June 8, their sales may be low but they may have to pay 100 per cent cost of rent, electricity and other fixed expenses.
The city’s hotels and restaurants owners are apprehensive about their business, speculating if people would prefer dining, especially with the curfew from 9 pm, which is usually the peak hour of business. President of the Chandigarh Hospitality Association, Ankit Gupta said that the hospitality industry stakeholders appreciate the government’s decision of opening up, but the restriction on timings and no clarity on opening of bars is a matter of concern. “The peak hour for hotels start from 8.30 pm and if the government allows movement till 9 pm only, we will have to wind up orders by 7.30 pm for that so the staff can reach their respective homes before 9 pm. It seems tough for the hotel industry,” he said.
“Moreover, most earnings of the hotel industry are dependent on bars and as per the guidelines, it is specified that bars will open in the Phase 3 of lockdown relaxation. It is a catch-22 situation for us,” said Gupta, adding that the hotel association has sought a clarification from the central government on the same.
Owner of Hotel Altius, MPS Chawla said that all hotels have central air conditioning and viability has to be considered accordingly, before he decides to open his hotel. “All hotels are centrally air conditioned. So, we will have to see the SOP of the government first. Second, timings are a deterrent as hotels usually have more customers during late hours and the timings issued by the government do not allow that. On week days especially, no one comes to have lunch,” Chawla said.
“Regarding the occupancy of hotels, no tourist or anyone from cities a few hours away will stay over, so that is an issue. This business will take a long time to pick up,” he added.
On whether he has decided to open his hotel, Chawla said that he will check the viability. “We will decide after calculating the fixed charges, salaries and various other expenses which the hotel will have to incur, as it is expected that there will be 25 per cent of the usual sales.”
Meanwhile, some hoteliers and restaurateurs have started preparing for opening their outlets from June 8. Owner of chain stores Nik Bakers, Nikhil Mittal, who also has an outlet in Elante Mall, said that preparations are underway. “We are following protocols in other outlets, it will be followed here too. We will have a guard outside who will do thermal scanning. Proper distancing within the outlet will be maintained,” he said.
Some hotel owners are considering to call only one-third of their staff to the hotels for the time being. “Initially, we will just call one-third of our staff. Only after seeing the customer’s response, we will call other staff members. We have to train the staff too once the government issues the SOP for operating hotels and restaurants,” a hotel owner said.
Meanwhile, microbreweries’ owners are still in a fix as the government guidelines said that bars will be allowed to open in Phase 3. These owners said that besides the timing, the payment of license fees to the excise department is also an issue.
Elante prepares to open
Elante, which is part of Nexus Malls, will be the first Mall in the Tricity to partner with Bureau Veritas to roll out the Safety-First programme. A statement issued by the mall stated that it will be “providing reassurance of quality and a safe shopping experience to consumers.”
To maintain optimum hygiene and sanitisation across the portfolio of Nexus Malls, the ‘Safety First’ programme has been initiated to ensure implementation of the stringent standard operating procedures which have been released by The Shopping Centres Association of India/ WHO for the malls to reopen and adapt to the ‘new normal’ post-Covid-19. Bureau Veritas will reassure and verify the detailing of protocols and measures to optimise hygiene, disinfection and operational processes of the nine malls run under the Nexus Malls, said a statement issued by the mall.
Sources said, air conditioning in malls is likely to remain an issue as the government may advise against the same.
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