On the first day of unlocking, shops selling non-essential products — mainly consumer electronics, cutlery, clothing, footwear and stationery — across the city witnessed a sizable turnout of customers. However, very few restaurants started the dine-in facility on Monday.
Two months after the second wave hit the city and slammed the brakes on many businesses again, restaurants, gyms, salons and shops cautiously resumed activities on Monday.
Restaurants recorded higher footfall during breakfast timings compared to lunch hours. With high operational cost, many restaurants, especially those in the business districts, are planning to continue with delivery services.
According to the new order issued under the ‘Break the Chain’ guidelines, dine-in for restaurants is permitted at 50 per cent seating capacity until 4 pm on weekdays and thereafter, only parcel, takeaway and home delivery are allowed. On Saturday and Sunday, restaurants will be shut.
“Although restaurant dine-in services have been allowed, we haven’t seen any significant movement in the city today. Only 15-18 per cent of restaurants, mainly the popular breakfast places, were open. The major challenge the industry faces is the restriction on operational time until 4 pm, as 70- 80 per cent business of a restaurant takes place during evening hours and on weekends. If we are not allowed to operate during prime hours, it’s not viable to keep a restaurant open. Hotels and restaurants are already running losses. There are no waivers on licences and taxes,” said Pradeep Shetty, senior vice-president, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI).
HRAWI has requested BMC and the state government to allow restaurants to operate at least till 11 pm.
Meanwhile, shops selling non-essential products across the city witnessed good response on Monday. Dadar, which is one of the busiest markets in Mumbai, witnessed a cautious opening with Covid-19 safety protocol.
Malls, theatres and multiplexes continued to remain shut as the metropolis has been categorised as level 3 under the ‘Break the Chain’ guidelines.
“We got a good response on the first day. Maximum customers are coming with repair work. The government decision came at the right time. The monsoon will start, and there is not much business in the three monsoon months,” said Deepak Deorukhakar, who runs a jewellery shop in Dadar and is a member of Dadar Vyapari Sangh.
The retailers’ associations have appealed to shop owners to follow Covid-19 safety protocol. “As per new guidelines, non-essential shops in Mumbai will be allowed to open Monday to Friday up to 4 pm. We have instructed our shopkeepers to follow Covid protocol and ensure complete safety for staff and customers,” said Viren Shah, president of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA).
Buses resumed services for the general public and were allowed to run full capacity, but passengers were not allowed to travel standing to avoid crowding.
Gyms and salons also opened, but the footfall was largely low. “I think clients will start coming back slowly, at least those who are vaccinated with both doses. As of now, we are allowed to open till 4 pm, but after the Covid-19 situation improves the time can be extended,” said Shalini Bhargava, who owns JGS Fitness Centre in Santacruz West. Bhargava is a member of the Maharashtra Gym Owner’s Association.
Retailers demand vaccination drive for staff
Mumbai: After the BMC issued guidelines for vaccinating staff from restaurants and hotels, retailers have demanded a special vaccination drive for staff members of shops too.
“Many shop staffers are involved in home delivery services and come in direct contact with lakhs of customers daily even at cash counters,” said Viren Shah, president of FRTWA in a letter to Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal seeking urgent vaccination for staffers.
Shah added, “We are sure BMC will urgently vaccinate our staff members too on a priority basis for the age group of 18 years and above. This is needed anticipating the third wave of Covid-19 and for survival and economic revival.”
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