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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Delhi orders shutdown, restaurants say last blow

The order comes as another blow to the industry that is among the worst hit due to the pandemic.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: January 11, 2022 7:38:41 am
On Monday, one in four persons tested in Delhi was found to be positive for Covid.

AMID THE continuing rise of Covid cases in the Capital, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) Monday ordered restaurants and bars in the city to shut, allowing only delivery services and takeaway.

The order comes as another blow to the industry that is among the worst hit due to the pandemic. After shutdowns during the first and second waves, with home delivery allowed after a while, and then a long period when they operated at 50 per cent capacity and curtailed hours, restaurants had seen business pick only recently, before the third wave hit.

The DDMA order followed a meeting on Monday where restrictions, cases and bed availability were discussed. “In view of the increase in positive cases it was decided to close the restaurants and bars and to allow ‘take away’ facility only. It was also decided to allow operation of only one weekly market per day per zone,” Delhi L-G Anil Baijal tweeted.

Kabir Suri, President of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), said the new guidelines were unsustainable and would impact “over 3 lakh people” employed in eateries in Delhi. “This will lead to widespread unemployment, because no one knows how long this will go on,” he said, adding that over 25 per cent of the restaurants shut last year and more than 24 lakh people lost their jobs nationally.

After the onset of Covid, the restaurant sector was the first to be shut and almost the last one to restart during the first and second lockdowns, Suri said. They were allowed to stay open till midnight only towards the end of August 2021. “This third wave is going to be even worse than last year. We somehow survived so far, but with the new guidelines announced today in Delhi it seems highly unlikely that we can sustain any longer,” he said.

Suri said that dine-out frequency in Delhi was the maximum — “6 times per month compared to the national average of 4.5 times per month” — whereas takeaway/ delivery was meagre.

According to officials present at the DDMA meeting, the sharp increase in the number of Covid cases over the past two weeks, and an uptick in deaths, have authorities worried.

On Monday, one in four persons tested in Delhi was found to be positive for Covid. A total of 19,166 cases were recorded as compared to 22,751 a day ago, primarily because the number of tests dipped from nearly 1 lakh to just over 76,000.

Delhi also reported 17 deaths due to the infection for the second day in a row on Monday. There have been 70 deaths due to the infection in the first 10 days of the year, the data shows. There were only nine deaths in December, seven in November, four in October, and five in September as per the data.

The Delhi government has repeatedly said it is against imposing a complete lockdown, opting instead for a weekend lockdown, even as Covid cases have increased at a rate faster than seen before.

Out of the 1.5 crore adult population in the city, nearly 1.12 crore have got both doses of the vaccine.

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