Updated: August 9, 2021 11:25:58 am
Amid relief mingled with fear, restaurants and bars in the city are preparing to stay open till 10 pm from Monday with 50 per cent capacity.
“It is a very good decision and we hope that the government does not impose restrictions on timings again. We await the decision on catering and hope they allow banquet halls and venues for weddings to function with 50 per cent capacity,” said Kishore Sarpotdar, secretary, Pune Restaurants and Hoteliers Association, and president, Maharashtra Catering Association.
Due to labour shortage and other uncertainties, only 30-35 per cent restaurants in the city are functioning, Sarpotdar added. “The government should allow educational institutes to reopen as well since many PG accommodations, messes, restaurants and small eateries are dependent on students,” he said.
The city’s watering holes and diners have borne the brunt of fluctuating timings as the government unlocked and locked again in response to the Covid situation. On June 14, for instance, bars and restaurants were allowed to stay open till 10 pm at 50 per cent occupancy but a fortnight later, it was announced that they could operate only till 4 pm at the same capacity.
“It is good to be back…but we are being informed just a day before and I am getting calls about what to do in this short time,” said Sanat Sarpotdar, owner, Poona Guest House.
One of the outcomes of the uncertainty is that the workforce in restaurants has returned to their hometowns in states such as West Bengal, Bihar and Uttarakhand, and it is a challenge to arrange for tickets to bring them back and arrange a place for them to stay. Many have taken up alternate employment that they cannot give up immediately. “We wonder what will happen after 15-20 days or during the Ganesh festival when the government might impose restrictions to control movement of people,” he added.
The majority of the crowds at restaurants and bars come late in the evening so the present rules spell a greater opportunity for establishments rocked by the pandemic. Previously, they had procured raw material and brought in labour to cater to the late evening crowd — only to have to close their doors earlier.
Karan Kriplani of Hippie@Heart said they welcome the new unlockdown measures. “We had estimated that these fluctuations might happen and had prepared accordingly. We are fully ready to serve till 10 pm,” he added.
After a long period, malls will open till 8 pm, but only for the fully vaccinated. At least 16.5 lakh people are fully vaccinated with both doses in Pune district.
Surjit Singh Rajpurohit, committee member, Shopping Centers Association of India and COO of Amonora Mall, welcomed the decision to open malls. The rider of allowing only double vaccinated people, he said, would be difficult to enforce but they would do their best to follow it. “Most of our customers are below 18 years of age so this will definitely lower footfall,” he said.
On an avearage, malls like Amonora report 20 lakh visitors a month. The retail industry has suffered a loss of more than Rs 10,000 crore in the last four months of closure. “We hope things will normalise before the festive season,” he said.
(With inputs from Partha Sarathi Biswas)
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