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Want to dine-in or do a takeaway? The pandemic brings with it new dilemmas for foodies

Food for thought: As the virus spreads far and wide, the new norm is about being cautious. Hotels and restaurants have started running their kitchens only after incorporating several precautionary measures.

Written by Nagina Bains | Chandigarh | Published: June 26, 2020 12:30:16 pm
coronavirus, unlock 1, restaurants opening, hotels coronavirus, dine-in, takeaway food, The onus on operators has increased manifold to ensure safety and it’s a constant effort with each order. (Photo: Getty Images)

Not too long back when we were welcoming spring and bidding warm goodbyes to bonfires, I recall that the conversation at most get-togethers ended with, ‘Where should we meet next?’ The replies were familiar, ‘I like the ambiance there’, ‘the food isn’t bad at the café’, ‘I know the place, their service is excellent.’ And then the lockdown happened and stepping into eateries seemed like a distant past. While many of us donned chef caps in our kitchens during this time, the cravings for a Chinese takeaway, sinful chole-bhature, gourmet wood-fired pizzas…got stronger. As restaurants open their doors with a host of directives – sanitisation, limited timings and covers, no contact policy et al, we are torn between – should we dine-in or do a takeaway?

Seema Singh, a child counsellor and mother of three confesses, “I love eating out, but in the lockdown, I realised how restaurants are spaces that also provide respite from the grind of daily life. The laughter, music, therapeutic conversation with the bartender, food…I am missing the entire experience. I wouldn’t think twice before entering a pub, just like we aren’t before entering grocery stores. Faith, trust, physical distance and of course, the famous hand wash should keep us going for a while.”

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As the virus spreads far and wide, the new norm is about being cautious. Hotels and restaurants have started running their kitchens only after incorporating several precautionary measures. Today, one has to go through several stages of checks before even making it to the reception area. In most restaurants, the body temperature of guests is recorded, they have to sanitize their hands and only then can they enter the premises. Also, ‘no mask, no food’ policy is strictly followed.

Shruti Goyal, a government employee and a foodie shares, “You are spoilt for choice in a restaurant, but the options are limited when you order in. Given the situation, I’m apprehensive about stepping out. I am looking forward to going back to my favourite food places and will be the first one to sit in a cafe and sip a coffee. For now, I will rely on delivery services.”

ALSO READ | Delhi: Restaurants grapple with reduced staff, missing customers

The onus on operators has increased manifold to ensure safety and it’s a constant effort with each order. Sam Singh, who owns a tiny fast-food space says, “I am trying my best to keep my staff safe by ensuring contact-less deliveries, where takeaways are placed on a counter in the parking area. No customers can enter the restaurant. Before handing over parcels to customers, temperature is checked and the food handed is over. It is mandatory that customers wear masks. The waiting areas are marked out to ensure that the customers practice physical distancing,” he explains.

No wonder that ‘Dine Out’ has launched the country’s first end-to-end ‘contactless dining suite’ for Indian restaurants to ensure they have a seamless plug-and-play technology and sanitation requirements to support no-contact dining for the foreseeable future. Alankar Narula, an advocate says that besides the fact that there is no comparison between dining in and takeaways, he will still wait for the world to recover. And that we all have to. Until then dine ‘in’.

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