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Friday, July 03, 2020

Allowed to reopen, many Gurgaon restaurants say new rules ‘making business unviable’

For the outlets looking to reopen, shortage of staff is a major problem, as employees have returned home amid the lockdown.

Written by Sakshi Dayal | Gurgaon | Updated: June 9, 2020 2:14:36 am
Coronavirus lockdown, Restaurants open, missing customers, Delhi news, Indian express news At Saravana Bhavan in New Delhi’s Connaught Place Monday. (Photo: Anil Sharma)

Despite the Haryana government allowing restaurants in Gurgaon to operate with certain restrictions from Monday, owners of several outlets in the city said they would remain closed as the norms make it “commercially unviable” to run the business.

The preventive measures listed by the government include basic steps such as mandatory masks and gloves for “all workers”, along with sanitisation at “regular intervals”. Other rules include limiting restaurant timings between 9 am and 8 pm, and operating at 50 per cent seating capacity. The government has also allowed only à la carte services (from the menu), disbarring buffet and bar services.

Gurgaon District Magistrate Amit Khatri confirmed no separate directions would be issued by the administration in the matter, saying, “Restaurants can go ahead and reopen as per the state’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).”

Restaurateurs The Indian Express spoke to cited two main clauses as problematic.

“The government has put in great guidelines, but there are two things that are hurting us — lack of alcohol service and early closure limit. If the government is genuinely helping the industry limp back to normalcy, it has to assist the business the way it works, and the way the business works is dinner,” said Ashish Dev Kapur, restaurateur and founder of various outlets, including Whiskey Samba and The Wine Company.

Inderjeet Banga, owner of Prankster and Pirates of Grill, reiterated this: “Conditions like limiting operation time till 8 pm, 50 per cent seating capacity, and bars not being allowed, does not make reopening commercially viable.”

“Dinner accounts for almost 65 per cent of our sales, we do 35 per cent in lunch. The government is permitting us to operate till 8 pm, then there is a 50 per cent occupancy rule, which means we can only do 15 to 20 per cent of our usual sales. However, if we open, landlords are demanding full rental. How can we pay that when we will make only 15 to 20 per cent of our usual sales?” he said.

For outlets looking to reopen, shortage of staff has been a major problem as many employees returned home amid the lockdown.

Vaibhav Nagori, partner at Greenr Café, said the staff deficit at the Gurgaon branch had been met by transferring people from one of its other two branches.

“Some of our staff from the Gurgaon branch has returned home, but we have transferred people there from one of our other branches. We have been running for takeaway and deliveries since mid-May, and will likely reopen for dine-in as well in a week’s time… Our site has a larger space so the 50 per cent seating capacity condition is not a problem, and we do not have a bar so that is not a deterrent either,” said Nagori.

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