Updated: April 13, 2021 2:48:38 pm
The Haryana government’s announcement of a night curfew in the state from Monday night in view of the surge in covid cases has left owners of restaurants and malls in Gurgaon worried that this will be a death knell for their businesses that had only just started getting back on their feet after several months of closure due to the lockdown last year.
On Monday night, the state government announced a curfew between 9 pm and 5 am “with immediate effect”, which will remain in force “till further orders”.
“Business had, even now, not reached pre-pandemic levels, but we were all at least breaking even, we had reached 60 per cent to 80 per cent of our pre-pandemic sales…we all broke our backs to resume work after the lockdown, some had to take loans, others had to sell property, employees came back and we started again, but this curfew will bring us all back to square one because around 70 per cent of our business comes in dinner, only 30 per cent during lunchtime…Landlords want similar rentals, you cannot take away the operating expenditures, the staff is back. Now again we have to go through this, it is going to bleed a lot of restaurants and, if it continues for a long time, a lot of restaurants may never open again,” said Inderjeet Banga, head of the Gurgaon Chapter of the National Restaurants Association of India and owner of Prankster and Pirates of Grill.
“Even if a night curfew was needed, it could have started at 10 pm or 11 pm. We also understand that the pandemic is rising and there has to be better enforcement (of norms), so why not come out with better SOPs like only allowing sit down dining, stopping larger parties, and see whether restaurants are following that instead of completely shutting down the business…are people not going out and doing other activities? Religious gatherings are happening, election rallies are happening, if they can happen then we can certainly come out with a better plan to help the F&B Industry also operate,” he said.
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At malls in the city as well, the timings of the night curfew have given rise to massive concerns regarding sales and footfall.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Aman Bajaj, Member of the MGF Metropolitan Mall Association, said, “Our business had risen to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels over the last few months but, in recent weeks, it again dropped by around 20 per cent due to the surge in covid cases. This curfew will only make things worse. If it started at 10 pm we would still be more at ease but if you keep it at 9 pm, we have to shut around 8 pm because 40 to 45 per cent of our staff is from Delhi and we have to take their movement also into consideration.”
“In addition, if the customer also has to return home at 9 pm, nobody will move out after 7 om because they have to account for commuting time, then they will want to look around and shop, nobody will come in such a hurry. Our working hours will basically end up being till 7 pm, after that there will be very little clientele…If they had kept it from 10 pm, there would be a buffer till 8, 8.30. If one hour was reduced, it would not pinch us so much,” he said.
Among the places less likely to be impacted by the curfew is Gurgaon’s oldest market, Sadar Bazar, where association members say a bulk of the shoppers come during the day.
“People come here for shopping in the day, until 7 or 8 pm, after that they return home, so the impact of this will not be much, but we have seen a reduction in footfall recently anyway. Business had improved a bit after the lockdown but it is reducing again because of the increase in infection” said Bablu Gupta, President of the Sadar Bazar Market Association.
Gurgaon has, over the last few weeks, seen a massive surge in covid cases. On Monday, the district recorded its highest single day spike in cases so far, with 1,132 people testing positive. There are now 6,177 active covid cases in the district.
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